Proposal offers stadium to UH
Several critics are questioning the need for the House bill
House leaders are pushing a plan to transfer run-down Aloha Stadium to the University of Hawaii.
The stadium would be operated by a public corporation that would raise funds to rebuild the structure.
Do you think it is worth spending the estimated $130 million it would take to repair Aloha Stadium, or should a new stadium be built that would cost many times that amount?
The measure is expected to be voted on by the House on Tuesday.
The idea is being fought by the administration of Gov. Linda Lingle but is backed by Tony Guerrero, a former Stadium Authority board member, who is vice chairman of First Hawaiian Bank and chairman of the UH sports booster organization Koa Anuenue.
Guerrero said the corporation would create a new funding source like the UH's research corporation, which would "operate, maintain, manage and improve Aloha Stadium."
Extra money made from the stadium could go to the UH athletic department, Guerrero said.
House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro said he liked Guerrero's idea.
The Legislature, the governor and the UH Board of Regents would pick the members of the stadium corporation.
But state comptroller Russ Saito, who is responsible for the current $25 million repair project, said the new idea is unnecessary and would interfere with the repairs.
"The proposal ignores the fact that the stadium needs more money for ongoing maintenance," Saito said in testimony. "This bill offers to channel more money to the UH athletic budget but offers no compelling argument why it would succeed."
Stadium Authority member Marcia Klompus criticized the measure, House Bill 2429, saying the "whole idea makes no sense."
"They talk about having sky boxes and selling the sky boxes, but you can't have sky boxes until you fix the stadium," Klompus said. "There is no common-sense reasoning to the whole thing."
Scott Chan, manger of Aloha Stadium, also opposes the idea.
"We want to remind everyone that only 13 percent of the stadium's $9.4 million in revenue is generated by the University of Hawaii," Chan said.
The swap meet, carnivals, concerts and other events generate the rest of the money, he said.
UH officials also testified against the bill, but Oshiro said the school was interested in the money the stadium could generate.
"They didn't want the burden of the cost of maintaining, improving and repairing the stadium," Oshiro said. "They would be willing to take the benefits, but not the burdens."
Oshiro said he worries that unless a new source of funding is found for the stadium, it will be a continual drain to the state.
He said Saito estimates that it will cost between $130 million and $150 million to fix the stadium, giving it another 30 years of life. Building a new facility would cost between $400 million and $500 million, Oshiro said.
Klompus said the Legislature should figure out a different way to help the stadium.
"They should fund the repairs for the stadium, and they should fund UH," Klompus said. "Once the stadium is fixed, then there is time for some sort of arrangement."