Stadium can’t get to money for repairs
The attorney general's office is reviewing the issue
The Aloha Stadium Authority has access to only $1 million of the $13 million it requested this year from the state for repairs it deems necessary to the 31-year-old facility.
Authority board members discussed the issue yesterday at their monthly meeting. They hope a positive review from the state attorney general's office next week will make more money available for refurbishing of the stadium roof and restrooms, and other repairs.
A capital-improvement request passed the recently concluded session of the Legislature. But because of a technicality, most of the money is not available without a proviso allowing the stadium to issue bonds.
Even with the proviso, the stadium could probably afford only $3 million of an authorized $12 million, since it would have to issue bonds and repay them from its own projected revenue.
"We are authorized to spend $12 million in revenue bonds, but we don't have authority to issue the revenue bonds," state comptroller Russ Saito said. "It seems like we ought to be able to have a loan from budget and finance. Like a bridge loan when you want to sell your home."
Senate Ways and Means chairman Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa) said such a loan would be unconventional at best. It also might not be legal.
"That's why we're trying to get an opinion from the attorney general," Saito said.
Legislators debated how much money the stadium needed during the session, and where the funds should come from, Taniguchi said. He added that the funding request, made in a message from Gov. Linda Lingle, came relatively late in the session.
"The senate decided it wanted to provide money because of the safety issues, and the house wanted to go with 10 or 11 million in revenue bonds," he said. "We said we didn't think the Stadium Authority could do that. With so much going on, we never got back to resolve it. We felt we couldn't get a good (legal) opinion on the bonds, so we left it in, with the hope of getting some legal sense of it (later)."
As it stands, this part of the state's budget doesn't make sense, Saito said.
"Why would you put in $12 million and say the funding is revenue bonds and not authorize issuing revenue bonds?" he said. "I think this has happened before, but it's kind of rare."
Taniguchi said the Legislature approved enough actual money for planning and design work on the roof, which it judged the worst problem.
"The roof seemed to be the area most deteriorated from the presentations we got," Taniguchi said.
"It seemed to have the most health and safety issues, the potential of patrons being hit by big patches of rust."
But there are other needs, Stadium Authority chairman Kevin Chong Kee said.
"There are a lot of (Americans With Disabilities Act) issues that have to be addressed. There is one elevator, a freight elevator," Chong Kee said. "Do we have to wait until we get a lawsuit?"
Chong Kee and others lobbied the Legislature for $129 million to repair and enhance the stadium and make it viable for another 20 or 30 years -- an alternative to building a new facility, which would cost around $300 million and take seven years.
"They never told us if they want a new stadium or renovation," Chong Kee said.
In another matter, Chong Kee said a public hearing on locking the stadium in football configuration would be scheduled before the authority's July meeting.