Stadium FieldTurf finally OK'd
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
The $1.3 million contract to install a new grass-like surface at Aloha Stadium was finalized yesterday, according to Gov. Linda Lingle and the NFL.
The new turf was scheduled to be ready by Sunday's Pro Bowl, but concerns over rushed construction, an unfinished contract and weather unpredictability prompted Lingle and the NFL to delay the installation between April and May.
The Aloha Stadium AstroTurf will be replaced by FieldTurf, a playing surface in which blade-like material is placed over a sand-and-rubber base.
The NFL will pay $500,000, while the state will pay $800,000, with $300,000 of that having been appropriated in Lingle's budget, but still must be approved by the Legislature.
FieldTurf CEO John Gilman originally estimated the project to cost $877,000, but that didn't include the cost of the field preparation.
"It's finally going to get going and get started," Gilman said. "It took a little time, but everything now is in place."
The turf replacement was a key issue on keeping the Pro Bowl in Hawai'i. The replacement turf also was part of a contract in 2000 between the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and the Pro Bowl.
The NFL prefers natural grass or FieldTurf because its players have complained about injuries suffered on AstroTurf. University of Hawai'i coach June Jones also has advocated for a new playing surface.
This week, Pro Bowl players expressed frustration about the delay in the turf installation.
Jim Steeg, NFL senior vice president of special events, said the players' outspokenness did not spur the contract, but added: "It's nice obviously to announce (the contract) when all the players are here so they can all go back and talk about it."
Lingle yesterday said the relationship between the NFL and the state has been strengthened after a trying start. She said the HTA should take responsibility for the negotiations, and that talks "shouldn't rise to the level of the governor's office to negotiate a contract for putting turf down in the stadium."
"I think we were able to work it out to everyone's satisfaction while actually enhancing our relationship (with the NFL)," Lingle said. "The National Football League now knows that the governor will get involved if she has to, but we will not negotiate football contracts from the governor's office."
The state wants to renegotiate the last two years on its Pro Bowl contract which expires after the 2005 game. The state will pay more than $11 million to host the game in 2004 and 2005.