Manny Menendez, executive director of the city Office of Economic Development, clarified fiscal questions yesterday about the Waipio Soccer Complex for reporters at City Hall.

City preparing
fees for Waipio
Soccer Complex

Events likely to be affected would
be those that charge admission
or require extra services

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city administration may soon pass to the City Council a proposal that would establish a fee schedule for major events and other activities at the 19-month-old Waipio Soccer Complex.

Manny Menendez, city director of economic development, told reporters yesterday that the schedule would allow the city to receive income from some groups using the facility.

The fee schedule is still being finalized, but most likely to be affected would be those who charge admission for events and major tournament-holders requiring extra city services, Menendez said.

For instance, he said, the city is already discussing the possibility of assessing the University of Hawaii women's soccer team a fee once the squad begins charging for admission. The team currently does not pay to play its home games there.

The fees likely will occur when the city completes construction of a ticket booth for the stadium portion of the 24-field complex.

The city may also develop fees for parking as well as charge for the use of concession booths and for placing signage during major events at the facility, Menendez said.

A fee schedule could also include charging rent for promoters seeking to hold non-soccer sporting events, concerts or other activities in the 5,000-seat stadium, which can expand to double the capacity with portable seats, he said.

Menendez stressed, however, that Mayor Jeremy Harris' administration is not intending to charge local leagues for use of the facility.

While the city would like to generate revenues for some activities, he said, "this is also a community facility for kids to play soccer, and you don't pay for that."

Menendez said the timing is right to look at the issue of fees since people have been able to get a flavor of the park since it opened in September 2000.

"Our approach is, Try it, see if you like it," he said.

Menendez said the city has not abandoned plans to obtain a private entity to operate and maintain the Waipio facility, as Harris promised Council members.

The city has not received an acceptable proposal, and the administration came under fire last month during a Council budget review meeting when Parks Director Bill Balfour said the facility costs an estimated $750,000 annually to operate and maintain.

Menendez said yesterday that the city intends to call for new proposals for a vendor.

Ultimately, Menendez said, he envisions a system where the city and an operator would share responsibility for operation.

Menendez held a news conference, flanked by local soccer community officials, to rebut published claims that the facility is being underutilized, particularly in the area of tournaments drawing teams from the mainland and abroad.

Menendez presented a list with 15 statewide and international tournaments that have occurred since May and another 13 scheduled through next summer, he said.

Those events with teams from elsewhere bring $10 million each into the local economy, he said.

The soccer park initially was slated to cost $11 million. But the first phase of the park, including 19 fields and the stadium, had a final price tag of $17.8 million, or a 61 percent increase, after generating 13 change orders to the contract, according to city records.

Four more fields and additional parking are now being constructed at a cost of $3.4 million. The ticket booth and permanent comfort stations are costing an additional $700,000.

At least two of the fields, the ticket booth and comfort stations are expected to be completed sometime this summer, Menendez said.

City & County of Honolulu

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