UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII ATHLETICS
Authority: UH should pay debt
The University of Hawaii athletic department owes Aloha Stadium $341,656 for overdue rent and operating expenses incurred during the 2005 football season, according to figures from the stadium authority board.
UH athletic director Herman Frazier said he has the money budgeted to pay the debt. But UH and the stadium are negotiating a possible decrease in rent, and Frazier said part of the discussion was about a retroactive decrease.
"In my public comments that were made to the stadium board, we came out and stated that it was always our intent to perhaps not pay any rent in the 2005 football season," Frazier told the UH Board of Regents yesterday.
Authority chairman Kevin Chong Kee said the stadium will not make any decrease retroactive to 2005, and the stadium needs the money to prepare for upcoming events, including the U2 concert on April 8.
"This happens every year, it's not something new. But even more now, (the stadium) has operating expense needs," Chong Kee said. "We're asking that the payment be made because the money is needed right away to put on upcoming concerts and other events."
Chong Kee is scheduled to meet with UH interim president David McClain next week in an attempt to resolve the issue.
"Kevin asked for the meeting, so I'll be listening to what he has to say," McClain said.
"It should be settled by the end of the month," Chong Kee said.
Stadium officials said last year 49 part-time workers were laid off because of late payment from UH.
The stadium board and UH officials are negotiating to reduce the rental rate from 7 1/2 percent of ticket receipts.
Frazier said he has had discussions with other UH administrators on a proposal.
"Those will continue with the president, chancellor, and general counsel," he said.
Chong Kee has assigned a subcommittee to do the same from the stadium end.
"The committee has to sit down, talk to each other and come back to us," Chong Kee said.
Critics have questioned why UH pays any rent to the stadium when it is not paid for high school games or the NFL Pro Bowl.
In other stadium issues:
» The authority will announce at its meeting next Thursday two or three finalists for the stadium manager opening, Chong Kee said.
"We'll go into executive session and interview the finalists March 2," Chong Kee said.
Eddie Hayashi retired from the position last fall.
» Chong Kee said the authority is still pondering whether to lock the 30-year-old stadium in baseball configuration or move it back to football configuration before the upcoming season and leave it that way.
"We know we will lock it (because of safety issues), we just don't know which configuration yet," Chong Kee said.
Football can still be played with the facility in baseball configuration, but only with expensive modifications. The stadium authority is asking the legislature for $25 million, Chong Kee said.
"In baseball configuration it's very awkward for football. The field will have to be turned, because what you have is a square," Chong Kee said. "The scoreboard, the locker rooms and the press box are all in the wrong places (for football)."
Prime midfield seating -- which UH has sold for premium prices -- would also be far away from the playing field.
The Star-Bulletin's Jason Kaneshiro contributed to this report