Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Aloha Stadium
in need of an
expensive tuneup

Officials predict that maintenance
can prolong the lifespan

By Pat Omandam

Aloha Stadium needs $1 million in repairs to its lower level or main concourse or it may eventually become unsafe to hold spectator events there, stadium officials are warning.

"In its present condition, the existing concourse is marginally safe to accommodate the volume of foot traffic it receives each year," stadium officials said in written testimony yesterday before the state Senate Economic Development Committee.

Of concern is the decking on the main concourse of the state owned and operated stadium, which is more than 26 years old. The foot traffic of thousands of fans as well as normal wear over the years have caused various portions of the decking to collapse and the corrugated steel to deteriorate.

What's needed, officials said, is a new steel decking, as well as a new concrete topping and non-skid waterproof coating. The project needs legislative approval and will be funded by stadium special funds.

"With an older stadium like this, if you don't do the maintenance, you lose your investment," said Mary Alice Evans, state deputy comptroller.

Evans said the project is a high priority for the state Department of Accounting and General Services, which is responsible for Aloha Stadium.

She said stadium engineers can't predict when the main concourse will become unsafe because various factors come into play. In testimony, stadium officials said if the lower level concourse is closed because of unsafe structural or architectural conditions, access to and from seating areas in the stadium stands must be closed for safety reasons.

And if the stands are closed, there won't be any spectator events at the stadium.

"There's a danger of either overstating the situation or understating the situation. Obviously, we put that in our request this year because it is a health and safety issue," Evans said.

The life expectancy of the stadium is another 15 years, but the lifespan can be extended with continued maintenance, Evans said, adding this alternative is cheaper than building a new stadium.

Meanwhile, stadium officials said the lower Halawa parking lot needs about $2.8 million in water, sewer, electrical and repavement improvements or it too may have to close.

And if it does, it will severely affect the already limited parking spaces available at the stadium, as well as force the 50th State Fair and the Hawaii Farm Bureau's Farm Fair to move from what has become their permanent location.

Senate Economic Development Chairman Rod Tam (D, Nuuanu) said he supports the stadium capital improvement projects but wants to see a business plan attached with a timetable for them.

Overall, the stadium hosted 299 events last fiscal year, which is up 31 events from the previous year. It raised $7.2 million in revenue last year compared to $6 million in 2000, with the difference due to increases in swap meet fees.

Revenue for this fiscal year is estimated at $7.2 million.

University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle and football coach June Jones are spearheading efforts this session to manage the stadium so it can better generate revenues for the university. The stadium is home to the UH Warriors football team, as well as the NFL's annual Pro Bowl.

Dobelle, who serves as a nonvoting member of the Stadium Authority, had said there wouldn't be a need for a new university stadium if Aloha Stadium could be sufficiently refurbished.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin