FANS CRITICIZE STADIUM'S PLAN TO BAN ALCOHOL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mike Berentson, center, and Luke Lazzo, right inverted, got quite a mouthful while doing a kegstand with friends from the Lanikai Skate Club in the Aloha Stadium parking lot prior to last night's University of Hawaii football game against Boise State. Many tailgaters are unhappy about the pending ban against alcohol, saying that it is part of the culture associated with watching live sports.
If they ban it, who will come?
Some tailgaters say they'd rather watch the game at home if alcohol is prohibited
If alcohol is banned at Aloha Stadium's tailgating parties, Joe Remular intends to start watching games on TV. His buddies say they will, too -- as do a slew of others who gathered before yesterday's University of Hawaii football game against Boise State to drink beer iced in coolers, eat steaks off the grill and congregate around pickup truck beds.
"My dad used to take me here," said the Waipahu resident, sitting on a lawn chair in the stadium's parking lot with a beer in his hand. "It's tradition."
The Stadium Authority voted last week to recommend a ban on alcohol at Aloha Stadium tailgating parties, arguing the absence of alcohol in the parking lot will decrease rowdiness and misbehavior in the stadium.
The authority's members said they had researched the financial effects of a ban, which were weighed against the number of alcohol-related incidents at games.
The recommendation must go through a review and public hearing process before it goes back to the Stadium Authority for a final vote, which could come as early as December. It will then go to the governor.
The next UH football game at the stadium is scheduled for Oct. 15, against New Mexico State. The authority's ban extends to "any high school event and at any regular season intercollegiate sporting event." Violators would have to leave.
Some of those who were tailgating before yesterday's game said it would be hard to enforce a ban, and hard to convince those who have been drinking in the stadium's parking lot for years to stop.
"Why does the Stadium Authority want to ruin this?" asked Todd Sydell, who sported a Michelob beer shirt as he extended his arms out, palms up, in the parking lot to refer to the confluence of tailgaters. The Hawaii Kai resident said he's been tailgating before games at the stadium for 20 years. If alcohol is banned, he says he'll stop coming.
So will Noah Padeken, of Kahuku, and his group of tailgating friends.
"We'll stay home and watch it on delay," he said, after taking a sip of beer.
But others are less incensed by the ban, which wouldn't extend to the stadium.
"We don't care," said Weston Fujii, who was eating bentos with friends yesterday. He quickly added that he doesn't support the ban, either.
"I'm just here for the game," he said.
A group of non-drinkers from Mililani, who wouldn't give their last names, said an alcohol ban wouldn't affect them that much. "Either way for us," said Ruby, a member of the party.
She also said she'd be supportive of a ban in the stadium.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona proposed the alcohol ban.
Aiona wanted no alcohol in the stadium and its parking lot.
But the authority said a ban in the stadium would mean breaking a contract with its concessionaire licensed to sell liquor to spectators until 2011.
Vernon and Jill Shibata, of Kaimuki, said they would like to see better security at the games. With that, they said, there'd be no need for a ban on alcohol.
"We enjoy a brew or two and we're not unruly," said Vernon Shibata, as he sat under a tent with his wife, eating cheese and apples with their son.
"No one will come if there's a ban," added his wife. "They'll stay home."