PAY AND PLAY AT ALOHA STADIUM
Panel members reject stadium alcohol ban by a 6-1 vote
Public testimony is cited for sinking ban plan
Bowing to public opinion, the Aloha Stadium Authority voted down yesterday a proposal to ban alcohol during tailgating in the stadium parking lot at regular-season University of Hawaii and high school games.
The vote was 6-1, with only board member Marcia Klompus in favor of the ban. Stadium Authority Chairman Kevin Chong Kee did not vote, and one member was absent.
Authority members cited public testimony against the measure, a reduction in alcohol-related incidents at the stadium last year, the possible effect on attendance at UH games and the inconsistent message in banning alcohol outside the stadium and allowing sales inside as reasons to reject the ban.
The board instead will look at what can be done to improve security and increase penalties for rowdy behavior at the stadium.
If problems continue, the board could reconsider the drinking ban, Chong Kee said.
A committee was set up to look at ways to improve security and reduce unruly behavior and underage drinking. It will include a University of Hawaii student and other community members.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who had pushed for a total ban on alcohol at the stadium during regular-season college games, said the vote "was not in the best interest of our citizens."
In a written news release, Aiona said, "The issue of banning alcohol is not dead. The authority's subcommittee will reconvene so they can put more teeth into preventing underage drinking and discuss how to enforce it at the stadium."
Katie Barry, a University of Hawaii-Manoa student senator who had lobbied against the drinking ban, said the authority made the right decision, adding that now the board can "focus on health and safety and move forward not to marginalize the majority of the fans who haven't done anything wrong."
She noted that most students do not go to the games, and said it is unfair to say underage students are the cause of drinking and problems at the stadium.
"I don't know what the problem is," said board member Alex Kane. "Until we know what the problem is, we can't attack it."
Kay Akina said friends, family and even strangers have been calling and talking to her, asking her to reconsider her position since she came out in favor of the ban last month.
She said she still supports the ban but does not think it needs to go into effect right away, noting that the number of alcohol-related incidents at the stadium declined to four last year from 16 in 2004.
Klompus said even though the board rejected the ban, the stadium should still have "zero tolerance" for people who are drunk and unruly at games.