Few testify on UH tailgating alcohol issue
The Stadium Authority weighs a proposed ban for the parking lot
Only 12 people submitted testimony yesterday on a measure to ban alcohol during tailgating outside Aloha Stadium during regular-season University of Hawaii football games.
Most of the testimony, even those opposed to the measure, said the authority should focus on banning alcohol sales inside the stadium, rather than outside.
"We have never seen any fighting in the parking lot before or after the games," said Robert Matsumura, a UH season ticket holder for 28 years.
Matsumura suggested the authority consider stiff fines for people who fight during games and no-alcohol family sections in the stadium, rather than a ban on drinking.
Lt. Gov. James Aiona, who has been leading the effort to ban alcohol during UH games, said the rule change does not go far enough.
"My concern with it is that it's really only going halfway. It should be not only the parking lot, but also the stadium proper, and I only hope that's done as quickly as possible," Aiona said at a news conference before last night's public hearing.
The Stadium Authority was scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. today to discuss and vote on the parking lot alcohol ban. If the measure is approved, it will be sent to the governor for review and could take effect next month to give the university and stadium security time to prepare for next fall's football season.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii also supported banning alcohol completely at UH games.
In written testimony, MADD Hawaii Council said allowing alcohol sales at college events, when many college students are under the legal drinking age, "sends a message that revenue from alcohol sales is more important than providing a safe, healthy, and controlled environment for our students, responsible adults and their families."
The majority of testimony against the alcohol ban was from individuals and from UH student government leaders, who argued the ban was not enforceable, would impair enjoyment of the game and could lead to a drop in attendance.
"People will drink before coming to the game, which I think would be more dangerous than if you allow drinking in moderation in the parking lot," said UH student Harold Stiller.
The University of Hawaii did not submit testimony on the measure. UH interim President David McClain has said he supports a ban on alcohol inside the stadium but does not agree with banning alcohol in the parking lot.
Stadium Authority Chairman Kevin Chong Kee said he was surprised at the lack of turnout for the public hearing, but said the meeting was properly publicized, even if it did take place just before Christmas.
The Stadium Authority also considered two other measures -- one to reduce the rent at Aloha Stadium for the University of Hawaii, and the other to charge a $1-a-person fee for events that do not charge admission at the stadium.
UH athletic director Herman Frazier urged the board to adopt a retroactive rent reduction covering the last football season.