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3 former governors urge plans for new Aloha Stadium to be cancelled

Aloha Stadium Hawaiʻi

A key state lawmaker expressed frustration with the pace of redevelopment of the land surrounding Aloha Stadium and said legislators may have to reconsider which agencies oversee the project.

The Aloha Stadium Authority and Department of Accounting and General Services, or DAGS, have been charged by state lawmakers with building a new stadium. That is part of a massive public-private partnership that would also create retail space, offices, and housing on the site in Halawa. It was hoped a new stadium would be built by 2024, but that timeline has been pushed back indefinitely.

Former Governors John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie wrote a letter to lawmakers suggesting that the University of Hawaiʻi play its home football games permanently on campus, as they would have to wait too long for another stadium to be built.

They said the 98-acre site should be used solely for commercial development and affordable housing.

State Senator Glenn Wakai, chair of the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, said he understands the frustration with the slow pace of development on the project.

"I’m on a weekly basis checking in with DAGS as well as the Stadium Authority to compel them to get this project out sooner rather than later," Wakai said. "Because I can tell you that if we lawmakers are dissatisfied with the pace of progress on the stadium, then maybe we’re going to have those entities taken out of the picture and put some other entity in charge of this project."

Still, Wakai said he does not agree with the idea of nixing a new stadium, as the facility will be useful for concerts, sports like rugby and soccer, and other entertainment. He calls the stadium the crown jewel of the development.

The Stadium Authority and DAGS posted a request for proposals (RFP) earlier this month for the commercial development part of the project, but has yet to post an RFP for the stadium itself.

Former Govs. John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie joined HPR's The Conversation on Tuesday, Nov. 9 to discuss the Aloha Stadium site.

Scott Kim was a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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