Turf to get Pro Bowl debut
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
FieldTurf will be installed in Aloha Stadium between the Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 25 and Pro Bowl on Feb. 2 or 3, and not before the high school season next month.
"Officials at FieldTurf have assured me that they will be able to complete the installation of the new field during the approximately five-week window between the Hawai'i Bowl and the Pro Bowl," Gov. Ben Caye-tano said. "This additional time will give everyone the opportunity to ensure that the installation is done right."
Aloha Stadium's AstroTurf will be replaced with FieldTurf, per conditions outlined in a contract between the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and the National Football League, which brings the Pro Bowl to Honolulu every year.
The decision to move the installation deadline from Aug. 2 was made during a meeting yesterday with the governor and representatives from the HTA, Stadium Authority and FieldTurf.
"The outcome is happy for everybody eventually," said HTA interim executive director Rick Humphreys. "I think the NFL will be happy with the results ... The Pro Bowl could in perpetuity be here in Hawai'i."
FieldTurf CEO John Gilman called the original deadline "virtually impossible" to meet, saying the company needs about 45 days to properly install its artificial grass-like surface.
The Stadium Authority set that deadline to ensure enough time to move the stands and paint the field. The first scheduled event at the stadium is the Father Bray Classic on Aug. 24. The University of Hawai'i's football season opens Aug. 31.
FieldTurf has not yet received a contract from the state. The company has stated a cost of $877,000 to install the turf, but it does not include the cost to prepare the subsurface of the stadium for installation.
Gilman said he received the results of the geotechnical studies done at the stadium this weekend. He hasn't calculated how much it would cost and how long it would take to prepare the field, which includes shaving down the crown.
Gilman said the work on the subsurface may take about two weeks. Laying down the turf will take another two weeks.
"We're not donating the turf," Gilman said. "Somebody's got to pay for it."
The HTA has agreed to pay up to $500,000 to install FieldTurf. The NFL has said it would also "contribute significantly."
"We can't give anyone a price yet," Gilman said. "We haven't even gotten to writing a contract. All this hype about getting started and we're a long way from it. That's why this whole issue about getting it in by that date was crazy. Everybody's asking me when we're going to do it. Well, somebody give me a contract."
Gilman preferred to install the turf during the break between the bowls. There are no events scheduled during that time, according to an Aloha Stadium official.
"I'm much more comfortable with that kind of time frame," Gilman said. "We'd have plenty of time to get it all mobilized and in place and do it."
Shipping the turf, which has already been precut to fit Aloha Stadium, from the company's warehouse in Georgia to Honolulu may take up to a month, Gilman said.
And with the company already working on about 50 projects in the United States this summer, manpower would be difficult to round up to meet an August deadline. If the work were to be done in January, when the company is installing fewer fields, Gilman said he could send two or three teams to Honolulu.
The proposed time frame is "much more realistic," Gilman said. "It takes all the pressure off."
The studies done by the local engineering firm R.M. Towill Corp. cost FieldTurf a little less than $50,000, Gilman said.
"It's nobody's fault," he said. "It's just taken this amount of time to get all the information ... This should've been given to us three months ago."