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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stadium must make money

The state Senate is largely aligning with the Lingle administration on a more sensible approach toward the future of Aloha Stadium namely, to make the most of what the state already has invested in it.

The Senate has changed House Concurrent Resolution 284 and passed it back to the House. In its original form, the resolution pressed the administration to begin planning for the demolition of the 35-year-old stadium and identify public land for its replacement.

But, as administration officials pointed out, this proposal ignores the fact that by August, about half of a project to replace the stadium roof and make other structural improvements will be done.

Other upgrades including new seats and better restroom and concession facilities are in the queue for next year, state Comptroller Russ Saito testified. And when it's done, he added "the stadium will be like new."

Lawmakers should pass the amended measure, which acknowledges the need to increase revenue from the existing stadium through public-private partnerships but demands more transparency about how those efforts are unfolding.

The problem is that the deed on the federally-owned stadium land restricts its use to public recreational purposes and bars its commercial rental. The state is in talks with federal parks officials to transfer that restriction to another property, which it should do.

But so far the community has heard little about which land might be affected by the transfer, leaving businesses and residents in the dark about what might change in their neighborhood.

It should be easy to bring them into the planning while turning the stadium into a property that earns its keep.