UH, state can't afford football game on Maui


POSTED: Monday, April 13, 2009

WAILUKU » Who built the pyramids? How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop? What exactly is Paris Hilton's talent?

Here's another one right up there with the rest of the universe's great mysteries:

What is the capacity of War Memorial Stadium?

Well, it's 53,727 ... the one in Little Rock, Ark., that is.

Maybe that's how the University of Hawaii got talked into playing that football game against Montana on Maui in 2001. Perhaps June Jones was under the impression that the Valley Isle stadium could accommodate more than four times as many fans as can actually fit.

Not that it mattered — attendance for UH's 30-12 victory was announced at 12,863 ... and the place was overflowing.

The Maui County facilities Web site tells us there's permanent room for 15,631 and temporary seating can be added to pump it up to 20,000.

Really, 20,000? Perhaps if we're talking Lilliputians.

The best estimate I've heard is around 13,500 — and that's if they're shoved in there really tight.

A gathering of around 2,500 for Saturday's scrimmage didn't look bad. Sure, no one in the end zone seats, but the empty patches weren't too huge on the sidelines.

It was a good crowd for what it was.

And those worried that this trip cost the UH athletic department a bunch of money it doesn't have need to know that Hawaiian Airlines was a major sponsor. So was McDonald's, donating 300 Big Macs for Big Mack and his hungry Warriors.

Athletic director Jim Donovan is also betting that giving the Maui fans a little up-close taste of the football team will come back to his balance sheet in the form of more pay-per-view subscriptions.

The AD would like to try to do this every other year. Next time, it should probably be on Kauai — Garden Island guys Kenny Estes and Vaughn Meatoga might be big stars in 2011, heading into their senior seasons.

As for another real, live, regular-season football game at War Memorial?

Even proponents like Shan Tsutsui, a state senator representing Wailuku and Kahului, agreed it would require major upgrades. Good luck getting state money to gussy up the state's second-largest football facility. There aren't enough big events on Maui to convince anyone that this facility needs seven to 10,000 more seats. Now, if Linda Lingle and Lenny and Marcia Klompus were still pulling the strings ...

Someday there might be another UH football game on Maui. But it would be because something happened to Aloha Stadium. Remember what Plan B was when FieldTurf installation fell behind schedule at Halawa? Scary thought.

As it is in most places, football is king on Maui. But baseball remains very popular. Its team always drew best in Hawaii Winter Baseball. The island is home to two major leaguers on the cusp of becoming All-Stars.

A UH game or two at Iron Maehara Stadium would likely fill the 1,500-seat facility, even with higher ticket prices to offset travel costs.

Volleyball and basketball games on Maui, the Big Island and Kauai are great ideas, too — especially since expenses would be lower for these small-roster teams.

So barring disaster at Aloha Stadium, don't count on a UH football game at War Memorial. But if you can do it without breaking the bank, it's a good idea to be a good neighbor. It's the University of Hawaii, not the University of Oahu.


Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.