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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2006

Aloha Stadium renovations likely delayed till '07

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

A shortage of funds has threatened to delay the $130 million renovation of Aloha Stadium until 2007, stadium officials said yesterday.

The Legislature appropriated $12 million to begin the first phase of renovation, but did not include a proviso authorizing the state Department of Accounting and General Services to issue revenue bonds to cover costs, essentially stalling the project, according to state comptroller Russ Saito.

"We're all assuming it was an oversight," on the proviso, said Saito, who oversees stadium issues.

Renovation was originally scheduled to begin in July on the 30-year-old stadium. The 50,000-seat Halawa facility requires repairs and renovations, including $2 million for installation of four elevators to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, stadium officials said.

The proviso could be approved at next year's legislative session at the earliest, Saito said.

In the meantime, Saito said DAGS will seek an opinion from the state Attorney General that will allow the stadium to take out a loan from the state Department of Budget and Finance to begin the project.

Saito said once the proviso is approved, DAGS will issue the bonds, pay off the loan and start paying off the interest on the bonds.

In March, Gov. Linda Lingle sent a message to the Legislature asking for $25 million to pay for initial repairs, according to State Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-10th (Manoa, McCully), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate put in $1.5 million in general obligation bonds to start the design and planning of a new stadium roof, Taniguchi said. However, stadium officials wanted $13 million for design and planning of the entire stadium, and the House suggested issuing revenue bonds to cover costs, he said.

"We didn't resolve the legal issue whether (the stadium) could, or could not do it with revenue bonds," Taniguchi said.

Taniguchi said he doesn't believe the stadium can afford to pay off $12 million.

Last month, the Stadium Authority waived its rental fees charged to the University of Hawai'i athletic department for home football games. UH rental fees were more than $300,000 per year.

The stadium makes $7 million in revenue, but has $6 million in expenses, leaving $1 million in profits, Saito said.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com.