Mayor to help with hoops sites
Roughly three decades ago, he suited up at center and played under the lights at Hawaii International Center, known better as the HIC.
Two decades ago, the gangly 6-foot-6 kid from Kalihi had become a local politician, but started his first girls basketball jamboree.
Yesterday, mayor Mufi Hannemann came full circle, announcing the city's plan to extend facilities to high schools for practices and games. Since the Hawaii High School Athletic Association announced the change of the girls hoops season from spring to winter, Hannemann has kept an eye on the lack of facilities for Oahu's schools.
"I knew immediately there would be a challenge for the ILH and OIA," Hannemann said. "So I asked our Parks and Recreation director, Dana (Takahara-Dias) to see whether we could help prep sports."
The former Iolani Raider also envisions doubleheader boys and girls basketball games at the old HIC, since renamed Blaisdell Arena. The first course of attention, though, is on practice facilities. In the ILH, where most schools don't have their own gyms, access will be available to public gyms: Manoa, Halawa, Salt Lake, Kailua, Waianae and more.
"It took some time to bring everybody to a good place," Hannemann said of athletic clubs which use the public gyms. "I want to thank those who are making adjustments."
Two public schools from the Oahu Interscholastic Association, Thompson and Anuenue, will also benefit. The bigger news for the OIA is that the city will open more access to fields: Keehi Lagoon, Hans L'Orange, Patsy Mink (CORP), Ala Wai and the soon-to-be opened Goeas baseball field in Hawaii Kai.
"This alleviates congestion," OIA executive director Dwight Toyama said. "A lot of our schools use county facilities."
Toyama noted that the city and county have been helpful over the years with access also to swimming pools and tennis courts. Baseball and softball, though, were a primary concern of league athletic directors.
"This will help us definitely at least 50 percent," Toyama said. "We're all on a learning curve."
Also at the press conference, the mayor announced the formation of a Honolulu County Sports Commission. Councilman Todd Apo, who is a longtime basketball referee, assisted Hannemann by freeing up $100,000 to start the commission.
"There's a recognition (within the Council) that there's a need for this," Apo said, noting that the loss of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf tournament is one example of the impact of pro sports. "It's hurt a lot since that disappeared. We're making both an economic and social investment."