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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 5, 2010

Fasi was visionary in sports as well

By Ferd Lewis

Sometimes the most entertaining moments at the Honolulu International Center (later re-named Blaisdell Center) weren't on the court.

Even on nights when the Fabulous Five or others played basketball.

Instead, they could be immediately before the game or during breaks in the action when then-Honolulu Mayor Frank F. Fasi held court from his front row seat adjacent to the press table.

Fasi, who died Wednesday at age 89, famously feuded with the press to the point he often sought to bar political reporters from entry to meetings and sued newspapers. But sports writers were a different story.

"I'll talk to you guys; not your editors," Hizzoner said more than once during a six-term stay at City Hall.

And, talk he did, beckoning us to lean forward and listen. "I've got this idea ..." he would say before launching into his sports Brainstorm of the Month.

The man who gave us TheBus, satellite city halls, summer fun programs and so many other things over the years floated ideas to: build a 15,000-seat arena where the old bus barn stood on Alapai Street; construct a baseball stadium behind McKinley High; build a combination arena and convention center; attract a pro hockey team here ...

But he also sought a major stadium, privately financed, in Halāwa and railed, from the beginning, against the concept of air cushions to move the stands and any notion of a rust-to-a-decorative finish scheme.

You had to give the man credit for daring to dream and challenge the status quo. In that he and the late Gov. John A. Burns, who shared little political ground in the 1960s and early '70s, were both visionary in so many things, especially sports.

They were the kinds of figures of far-reaching foresight and quick action that we long for in our political and sports leaders these days.

Burns, through force of his ideas and will, pushed UH into major college sports, began a booster club, sent the school toward entry into the Western Athletic Conference, a stadium, brought major events here and so much more.

Aloha Stadium was one vision they shared and championed, even if they were reading from different pages of the same book.

Current and future politicians might do well, especially when it comes to matters of sports, to ask themselves what these two men might have done.