Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Stadium workers are helping
to coordinate game parking

Question: We went to the Aug. 31 UH football game at Aloha Stadium. When we finally got into the parking lot, we drove around and around trying to find a stall. Why didn't security guards ease traffic by helping cars find a parking stall in between the tailgaters? Cars were driving in and out of the aisles dodging people playing football, dealing with tailgaters half in the driveway and kids running in front and in back of cars. Doesn't it make sense to have security personnel walk around, enforcing the rules? They need to make sure that tailgaters stay within their space, get those kids off the driveway and stop the football playing. They should direct traffic and tell us if the aisles have parking or not. Some tailgaters get upset if they have to move their chairs so someone else can park. They start revving their engines, giving us stink eyes. Security needs to handle this kind of problem. I have no problem paying the new rate of $5 but come on, get a system going on there. Also, why are they reserving regular stalls for the handicapped? They were placing cones in the stalls and when I asked both a security guard and a police officer, I was told they were for the handicapped. Aren't there designated handicap stalls in the stadium already?

Answer: Stadium employees, with the help of police, monitored the parking situation as best they could, according to assistant events manager Scott Chan.

"We meet with our people to make sure they are proactive in dealing with such situations" as you described, he said.

They couldn't be everywhere at the same time, but officials did monitor the parking lot from the top of the stadium, "making calls down to the bottom saying, 'Get HPD over there to break up a party.' We did that several times from the top," Chan said.

He noted that "police are there to help keep law and order and they'll help us, but (stadium parking employees) pretty much direct traffic in the inside."

At any given event, the number of workers may vary. If someone doesn't show up for work, another worker has to cover a wider area, Chan said. The stadium also has faced a shortage of special-duty police officers signing up for stadium duty and is trying to get more of them to help out, he said.

Regarding tailgaters, the rule is one space per car and no football-playing and other such activities.

Stadium employees are told to prevent such things before it happens, "so we don't have those issues later on down the line" with people becoming upset if they're already set up and saying they weren't aware of the policies, "although they've been in effect for years," he said.

"We hit the media trail very hard the week prior to (a game) in terms of educating the general public," Chan said.

Although stadium workers are there to enforce the rules, he acknowledged that sometimes "they don't have the leverage that a police officer does. So we get the police officers over to handle those situations."

During the busiest time, however, "Our main concern is getting vehicles in as quickly and safely as possible. Then we do spot checks thereafter. As soon as we have an opportunity to address those issues (football playing, etc.), we will."

Regarding the coned-off parking stalls, it is not true that they were reserved for the handicapped.

"The handicapped have their own area," Chan said. The coned stalls were either for employees, police, the news media, or UH staff or booster club members.

"We're making a better effort in trying to inform the general public (about the rules)," he said. "We're committed to making this work. There's nothing better than to have a smoother transition for (football fans) to get here. That's been our goal."

Q: At every University of Hawaii football game, there are about 10 to 12 of the same arrogant scalpers hanging around the Aloha Stadium front box office who buy and resell tickets at an inflated price. Isn't scalping against the law? I can only go to about three home games a year so I try and buy from people looking to sell their tickets before the game, but these scalpers increase the price for everyone. One scalper told me he makes about $200 at each home game. I am sure he doesn't pay taxes on this income either.

A: Scalping isn't against the law. It's considered part of free enterprise.

The question periodically comes up because there was a time Hawaii had a law prohibiting "illegal profiteering from the sale" of tickets.

In 1971, seven people were charged under that law after they were caught selling $5 and $6 UH-Nebraska football game tickets for $22 to $100 each.

Until then, most people didn't even know the anti-scalping law existed. Although the scalpers faced a maximum $1,000 fine and a year in jail, most got off with a $25 fine. One man pleaded innocent, and the charge against him was later dropped.

Two years later, in 1973, when the state penal code was revised to do away with obsolete laws, the anti-scalping law was gone.

Aloha Stadium officials are aware of the scalpers, but say there really isn't a problem.

"Technically, scalping is only when the stadium is sold out" and people looking to make a buck sell their tickets at inflated prices, depending on the game, noted Ed Spiezio, site supervisor for stadium security.

"But under normal conditions, since we never have sellouts and there are still tickets at the gate, it's kind of 'buyer beware,'" he said.

What the stadium doesn't allow is for someone to hang around the box office, bothering ticket buyers.

"We discourage (the practice) as best we can," Spiezio said, but scalpers are allowed to sell their tickets as long as they stay in a certain area.

The scalpers tend to be the same people who know the unwritten rules of the game -- "they stay away from the box office and they're very discreet about it. They're not pushy and they don't force anybody to buy a ticket," Spiezio said.

"There's no one putting a gun to your head saying, 'You have to buy this ticket.'"

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