When the University of Hawaii football team walked off the Aloha Stadium turf following a 38-21 win over UNLV last Saturday, little did the Rainbow Warriors know that they could be saying goodbye to their home for good.
Sources tell KHON2 that Aloha Stadium has been deemed unsafe to hold crowds of any manner and is facing condemnation.
In a Thursday press release, Aloha Stadium said it would be placing a moratorium on new events while reducing current operations due to financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stadium, which was built in 1975, has been home to the UH football team and Hawaii state championship games for the past 45 years. Additionally, it also hosted the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s annual All-Star game, for almost four decades.
But it’s also been home to much more.
Various schools across Oahu choose to hold their graduation ceremonies at Aloha Stadium. Concerts at the stadium, such as Bruno Mars’ two sold-out shows in November 2018, have created long-lasting memories for many on the islands.
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Since opening, the stadium has deteriorated rapidly and dealt with numerous issues, including rust.
During the 2020 college football season, the ‘Bows played their home games in front of an empty Aloha Stadium due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations put in place in Hawaii. In order to maintain NCAA Division I FBS status, teams must average an attendance of 15,000 once every two years. Before the pandemic, UH had no trouble meeting that mark, as Aloha Stadium has a maximum capacity of 50,000.
Thursday’s news leaves UH in a major bind, as no other stadium on Oahu is close to the 15,000-seat quota. Clarence T.C. Ching Stadium on the UH-Manoa campus currently holds under 5,000 fans.
The new Aloha Stadium, which is expected to hold anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 fans, is not projected to be ready until 2023 at the earliest.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect a Thursday press release sent by Aloha Stadium, which announced it has decided to reduce operations and will place a temporary moratorium on new events due to financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aloha Stadium will continue to hold previously scheduled events, such as the Hula Bowl on Jan. 30, 2021, but fans will continue to not be permitted. Other previously scheduled events are planned to proceed, such as the drive-through Christmas display and Swap Meet & Marketplace. With no new events planned beyond that, it’s unclear what’s in store for the Oahu centerpiece moving forward.
Part of the statement provided to KHON2 states: “The Stadium Authority has been clear the moratorium on new events within the stadium bowl are not related to structural issues. Rather, this difficult decision has been made due to economic conditions stemming from COVID-19 safety restrictions as noted in the release.”
University of Hawaii athletics director David Matlin released a statement as well on Thursday, confirming that the football team is currently exploring its options for home games in the 2021 season.
“We are beyond disappointed of the news at today’s announcement from the Aloha Stadium Authority that there will be no further events in the current stadium with fans,” said Matlin. “Aloha Stadium has such a storied history and carries so many memories for our football program and generations of Hawai‘i families. We must now take responsibility ourselves to find a suitable venue for our Rainbow Warriors, Hawaiʻi’s football team, to play in front of our loyal fans beginning in 2021.”