Wednesday, February 7, 2001
home page local news opinion business island life sports
AP Sports
University of Hawaii
High Schools
Surf Report
The Golf Page
Classified Ads
Restaurant Guide
Business Directory

Posted on: Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Stadium's rewards worth risk?

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Conceived in controversy and christened with a curse, Aloha Stadium has been called a lot of things in its quarter-century history.

Just about everything from a "marvel" to a "white elephant."

Nobody, however, has ever called it a "gold mine."

Yet somewhere under all that rust in Halawa the University of Hawaii thinks there is a sizeable profit to be unearthed. Enough money, it envisions, to operate the stadium and still throw some sorely needed coins into the athletic department’s piggy bank.

Between skeptics and the political toes that would be stepped on by such an arrangement, UH’s proposal has moved as fast as the old air-cushioned stadium grandstands once did.

Now that Gov. Ben Cayetano has given support to the idea, maybe things will change and UH will become a seven-days-a-week landlord instead of a Saturday night tenant.

At a time when there is little public money available for the state’s only Division I-A athletic program, why not at least allow the Rainbows the opportunity to earn some, if they can?

It is an intriguing "if," but if UH can be resourceful enough to operate the stadium under the current terms and still save itself the $800,000 it has been forking over in rent, so much the better.

That’s money for scholarships, recruiting travel and coaches’ salaries that could be improved if UH had a stake in what it brings into Aloha Stadium as its most visible tenant.

For that is an $800,000 shot to the bottom line, about 5 percent of the UH athletic budget, that a lot of the schools the Rainbows compete against don’t have to take. Only two schools in the nine-member Western Athletic Conference — UH and San Jose State — don’t own or operate their own stadiums. Twenty-one of the 27 schools in the combined WAC, Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences have their own stadiums.

Increasingly with the Stan Sheriff Center, UH has shown it can play host to concerts, beauty pageants and other events.

Now, to hear the university tell it, there are larger untapped revenue sources to be found at Aloha Stadium as well. There are, UH maintains, significant savings to be realized by consolidating services and staffing the school and the stadium both currently provide. And there are advantages to negotiating as one entity contracts that would involve signage, concessions, cleanup, etc., for Aloha Stadium, the Stan Sheriff Center and Rainbow Stadium.

There would also be flexibility in scheduling game and parking lot hours and additional promotional opportunities since UH could share in concession and parking revenues.

The UH would be free to install field turf or another natural grass-based surface that both it and the NFL have advocated.

Of course, with opportunity comes responsibility and risk. UH would be expected to continue the relationship the stadium has with the high schools and other tenants. And, what if revenues do not meet projections? Would UH have to take money away from football or men’s basketball to cover a shortfall?

At this point, UH’s operation of Aloha Stadium is an idea worth a long look to see if it makes both dollars and sense.

[back to top]

Home | Local News | Opinion | Business | Island Life | Sports
USA Today Scores | University of Hawaii Teams | High Schools Teams | Recreation | Surf Report
How to Subscribe | How to Advertise | Site Map | Terms of Service | Corrections

© COPYRIGHT 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.