Amid all the tailgating activities at Aloha Stadium yesterday, Mike Wong of Pearl City enjoyed some quiet time.

Tailgaters serve up
opinions on proposed
ban on alcohol

Just thinking about a proposed ban on alcohol at Aloha Stadium made Erik Basden take another sip of beer.

"I don't think as many people will come to the games," the Hawaii Kai resident said, as he gathered with friends and family for a tailgating party in the stadium's parking lot before yesterday's University of Hawaii football season opener against the University of Southern California.

"A few rotten apples spoiled it for the whole bunch," piped in Basden's friend, Mike Parker Gray, who was sitting on a cooler with a beer in hand.

The two were among thousands who flocked to the stadium's lot hours before the game's first play to carry on a long-held tradition of football season tailgating. And as they drank, stood around barbecue grills or sat on pickup truck beds, talk of the ban came up often among those on either side of the issue.

Last month, the Stadium Authority's nine-member board voted unanimously to consider the proposal. They've appointed a task force to look into the financial impact of a ban and possible alternatives to an outright prohibition on drinking.

The task force will make its first report at the authority's Sept. 29 board meeting. A full board vote could come, at the earliest, in October. It will be an additional 45 days or more -- during a review and public-hearing process -- before any rule change could go into effect.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona proposed the ban and has enlisted the support of UH Interim President David McClain. Both say alcohol has contributed to violence at Warrior games in the stadium, and such unruliness has escalated over the last several years.

The ban got strong support among a group of 20-somethings, sitting in a circle with plates full of barbecued ribs and cups full of water or juice.

"Ban it!" yelled Gordon Tilley Jr., as he stabbed his fork into the meat. "We're here to watch the game, not to get drunk." Norman Thompson, who was sitting nearby, nodded. "There are little kids here. It's just not a good example."

There were kids at the Medeiros' table, but that didn't stop the beer from flowing.

"How are they going to check it (if there's a ban)?" asked Liz Medeiros, who was snacking on poke and flavored soy beans with her family. "I think it will be too hard."

Friend Gary Faber added, "We think you should have it (liquor), but within reason."

One tailgating party was split among those who wanted the ban and those who didn't. Supporters gathered around a pickup, snacking on hot dogs and sipping soft drinks. Nearby, opponents sat around a grill, watching steaks cook. The division, the partygoers said, was purely coincidental.

Ray Corpuz, of Kapolei, stood near the party's grill holding a dish for the finished steaks.

Go ahead, he said, ban alcohol. "It doesn't matter," he added, with a chuckle, "because people are going to find a way to drink anyway."

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