Fieldturf finally
ready to grow

By Dave Reardon

After months of frustration, negotiation and more frustration, John Gilman finally said the sentence he's been waiting to utter since last spring.

"It's a done deal," the CEO of Fieldturf said yesterday.

A news release from the NFL later in the day and confirmation from the local sub-contractor, Hawaiian Dredging Construction, also indicated that work would begin on replacing the Aloha Stadium surface immediately after the Dec. 25 ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl.

Because this has been such a drawn-out, contentious undertaking, there will be those who won't believe it until they see it happening. Also, Gilman (whose company is the general contractor) and Hawaiian Dredging are still in the process of securing permits for the project.

Fieldturf timeline
For a larger version of the timeline, click on the picture above.

Stadium manager Eddie Hayashi said any loose ends should be wrapped up at a meeting today.

"I don't think there will be problems, but we are still working on a contract," Hayashi said. "It's in the final stages."

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the NFL and Gilman say everything else is set for resurfacing the stadium in time for the Feb. 2 Pro Bowl.

"At the urging of our players we felt it necessary to pursue a new surface at Aloha Stadium and made this a key part of the negotiations in our 1999 (Pro Bowl) contract," said Jim Steeg, NFL senior vice president of special events.

Mel Miyamoto, heavy division manager at Hawaiian Dredging, said his company's involvement is relatively minor.

"We're just doing the grading, just getting it to the grade that they can put the turf on," Miyamoto said. "They peel off the turf, we grade, they install. We're a very small part of this."

Miyamoto and Gilman said the first stage of pulling up the AstroTurf and reshaping the stadium floor will take two weeks.

Gilman is sending a double-sized crew to get the turf installed in time for the Pro Bowl. The turf was cut several months ago and is in a warehouse on the mainland ready to go.

Gilman said a deal has been worked out so that Hawaii taxpayers won't end up paying more than the $500,000 that the HTA earmarked for the project in the summer.

Estimates ranged from $1 million to $2 million for preparation of the stadium floor last summer.

Gilman declined to talk about total costs and how much was being paid by the NFL and how much was being absorbed as a discount by his company.

Miyamoto said he did not know how much Hawaiian Dredging bid to do the grading job.

Tau Harrington, Sports Event Consultant of the HTA, said the new surface will help Hawaii secure major international soccer championships.

"Hawaii is now perfectly situated to become the gateway between East and West, and with Fieldturf installed, Aloha Stadium could become the home field for the U.S. Olympic team."

Hawaii football coach June Jones is among the most avid proponents for a switch from AstroTurf to Fieldturf. At his weekly news conference yesterday, he once again spoke of his belief that the softer Fieldturf surface causes fewer injuries.

"I'm glad that the AstroTurf is getting changed. We've had three 'knees' in two games. And it looks like a couple of them, had we made the decision earlier, we probably wouldn't have had problems," Jones said. "But guys' legs get stuck on that stuff, and when they get hit, they've got nowhere to go."

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