Authority chief likes football set-up
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
The Aloha Stadium Authority chairman yesterday said he favored locking the stadium's movable grandstands permanently in a football configuration, and also removing some field seating to accommodate a wider soccer field.
The proposal by Kevin Chong Kee was one of several alternatives on handling the unreliable and costly 30-year-old system that controls the stadium's moveable grandstands yesterday at an Aloha Stadium Authority meeting.
"My personal feeling is we should lock it in football configuration," Chong Kee said. "If we remove the first couple corner rows of seating ... then we could host soccer and football. We could replace the seats somewhere else."
Aloha Stadium needs costly repairs to withstand another 20 to 30 years of use, officials said. The stadium is poised to begin the first phase of an estimated $130 million renovation project in July.
The 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium — the largest and most versatile multi-purpose facility in Hawai'i — last hosted a pro soccer match with D.C. United and Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005, and a Major League Baseball three-game series with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals in 1997.
A recent consultant's report recommended the stadium lock the grandstands in a football configuration, and not refurbish the grandstand system, saving an estimated $11 million. Another study yesterday provided "pros and cons" on the stadium's baseball and football configurations.
Yesterday's study said "98 percent" of the Aloha Stadium experience is football, and the stadium is optimized in the football configuration. The out-of-pocket costs of just one stadium "move" exceeds the total season revenue from baseball, and alternatives are to use other venues such as the University of Hawai'i's Les Murakami Stadium, Hans L'Orange Field and Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Complex, the study said.
Aloha Stadium engineer Kenneth Tong said it takes anywhere from four days to two weeks, and costs $18,000 to $20,000 to reconfigure the grandstands, which were designed to glide on a cushion of compressed air.
In current football configuration, the stadium would not be able to host baseball and professional soccer, but it would cost less for renovations. In baseball configuration, the stadium could host football and soccer events, but that would require costly field, seating and other improvements. Both configurations would allow for concerts.
Alternatives proposed by Aloha Stadium Authority member Alvin Narimatsu included locking the stadium in a baseball configuration, or repairing the grandstand system.
"I'm glad they're going to consider all of the options," said Narimatsu, who is in favor of a multi-purpose stadium. "Once we lock it, we're going to have to live with that. We may wind up with a very expensive football field, and I don't think our Legislature is going to buy it."
Gov. Linda Lingle this week requested the Legislature allocate $25 million for the first phase of the stadium's renovation, which includes planning, design, and improvements to such areas as elevators, railings and toilets, said State Comptroller Russ Saito.
Reach Brandon Masuoka at email@example.com.