UH fans mull choices on how to watch game
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
For the first time, University of Hawai'i football games will be available live on pay-per-view across O'ahu, giving even die-hard fans options to consider.
Aloha Stadium Charge: Tickets are $19 sideline, $15 end zone, $11 senior citizens, ages 4-high school. Parking: $5 for cars, $15 for commercial buses and trucks. Upside: Can't beat seeing game in person Downside: Traffic, concession and restroom gridlock, plus highly priced refreshments Pay-per-view Charge: $12.95 per game; $75 package for seven home games, not including Alabama game, which will be telecast on ESPN Parking: Favorite La-Z-boy Upside: No traffic, concession or restroom gridlock, plus cheap eats Downside: Not as much fun doing a one-person wave Delayed telecast Charge: None Parking: Wherever you can fall asleep Upside: Hey, it's free Downside: 10 p.m. start means game could end around 1:30 a.m. Restaurants/bars Charge: None Parking: Might be a charge at some establishments Upside: Good food and drinks Downside: Paying for good food and drinks
Football, football everywhere
Charge: Tickets are $19 sideline, $15 end zone, $11 senior citizens, ages 4-high school.
Parking: $5 for cars, $15 for commercial buses and trucks.
Upside: Can't beat seeing game in person
Downside: Traffic, concession and restroom gridlock, plus highly priced refreshments
Charge: $12.95 per game; $75 package for seven home games, not including Alabama game, which will be telecast on ESPN
Parking: Favorite La-Z-boy
Upside: No traffic, concession or restroom gridlock, plus cheap eats
Downside: Not as much fun doing a one-person wave
Parking: Wherever you can fall asleep
Upside: Hey, it's free
Downside: 10 p.m. start means game could end around 1:30 a.m.
Parking: Might be a charge at some establishments
Upside: Good food and drinks
Downside: Paying for good food and drinks
Attend the game, but face traffic, concession and restroom gridlock, as well as an increased parking fee?
Wait four hours after kickoff to watch the delayed telecast at 10 p.m.?
Order pay-per-view to watch it live?
Go to a restaurant or bar to watch it live for free?
"I'm going to watch it on pay-per-view (at a bar)," said Damon Kimura, 37, of Nu'uanu, who rattled off the disadvantages of attending the game in person such as traffic jams, long security searches and parking troubles.
Kimura, who works as a loan officer, said he plans to watch Saturday's season opener against Eastern Illinois live at an air-conditioned sports bar where "I don't have to worry about (the long lines) going to the restroom."
Many fans, however, said they plan to attend the game at Aloha Stadium because, as Chris Delima, 39, of Kane'ohe, put it: "I prefer to watch the game live (in person)."
Delima, who works in maintenance, said: "As a former player of Kahuku High in 1982, football is in my blood. It's my passion. You want the atmosphere and excitement. I miss that. If I can afford to go, I'd rather be there than watch it on TV."
Jeremiah Straube, 25, of Halawa Heights, agreed, but said he understood people who have "jobs, priorities and family" opting to watch the game at home.
"If I had a choice, I would watch the game live," said Straube, who paints airplanes and is a UH student. "It's like watching hoops on TV and playing it. This is our team. This is all we got."
Pay-per-view a hot ticket
Lonnie Shupp, senior director of marketing at Oceanic-Time Warner Cable of Hawai'i, said the seven-game pay-per-view package is selling well (the package does not include the Nov. 30 Alabama game, which will be shown on ESPN), but company policy prevented her from disclosing how many packages it has sold so far.
O'ahu viewers will be charged $12.95 per telecast, while Neighbor Island viewers, who used to receive telecasts live, will pay $5 per game for the first year. Season packages are $75 for O'ahu households and $25 for those on Neighbor Islands. A digital cable box is required.
Although some consumers were told that the per-game price might change after the first two telecasts, Shupp said it would remain at $12.95 a game for the season.
Shupp said she anticipates more customers buying the single-game UH-Eastern Illinois telecast once it gets closer to Saturday.
"I have a feeling the people who are going to impulse order are going to do it at the last minute," Shupp said. "Guys tend to wait until their neighbors invite them over."
Gary Dickman, the general manager of Players Sports & Entertainment Club, said his establishment will show the game live and will be offered free to patrons.
"We figured if we charge $5 or $10, they might want to watch at home," Dickman said. "That was the reason not to charge."
Dickman said Oceanic-Time Warner Cable of Hawai'i charged his Alakea Street club "a few thousand" for the season pay-per-view package.
"Financially, we're not sure what to expect because it's never been done before," Dickman said. "We're one of the biggest sports bars in Hawai'i. How can we not show it?"
UH officials yesterday said the addition of pay-per-view has not hurt season ticket sales.
UH sold about 24,700 season tickets compared to 24,500 last year. There was skepticism season ticket sales would suffer after UH signed the pay-per-view contract with Oceanic-Time Warner Cable last month.
It's still unclear whether walk-up and single ticket sales will be affected by pay-per-view.
As of Monday, approximately 30,000 tickets had been distributed for Saturday night's game, UH said.
Most fans understood the reason for the stadium parking fee increase and said paying an additional $2 would not be a problem. For the first time in 17 years, fees have increased from $3 to $5 for cars, and from $10 to $15 for commercial buses and trucks.
"I'm going to go anyway," said accountant Tom Woo, 72, of Kaka'ako. "I only go on certain occasions, so that negates the increase in cost. If you have a winning football team that extra cost is nothing."
Wayne Eves, 32, of Hau'ula, said he wanted to attend as many home games as he could and would car-pool with family and friends.
"The only reason why I wouldn't go to the stadium would be traffic, or if I couldn't make it there for some reason," said Eves, who works as a security officer. "Even if the parking fee is raised, I would still like to support the team."
However, long-time UH fan Rodney Okai, 48, of Pearl City, warned the additional fee, along with traffic jams, threat of large crowds and late gate openings for tailgaters might persuade fans to watch the games on pay-per-view or delayed television.
"I'm a die-hard fan, so no matter what they charge, I'll go," said Okai, who has been a season ticket holder for more than 20 years and works at a cable company. "But not everyone is a die-hard, and if you do this kind of stuff, it's just going to kill them. All these little things add up."
Stadium officials called the parking fee increase necessary and said it will generate an additional $200,000 for maintenance and repairs of the 8,000-stall parking lot. The increase applies to every event at the stadium; parking for high school and grade school events will remain at $2.
Of the 10 Western Athletic Conference schools, only San Jose State and Fresno State have higher parking fees for the general public at $8 and $6, respectively. The other schools, such as Rice and Tulsa, have incorporated parking fees in ticket and booster packages, while other schools such as Louisiana Tech, Nevada and UTEP offer free parking.
Scott Chan, Aloha Stadium's assistant events manager, said the extra money will repair the lower levels of the parking lot that have holes or large chunks of asphalt protruding. He also said weeds in some areas have poked through the asphalt, further eroding it.
"There's a problem and we need to address it," Chan said. "The parking lot is not up to par."