A few weeks ago, the Aloha Stadium Authority found that their stadium needs $30 million over the next two years to repair structural damage in the stadium.
Hawaii’s facilities have been a problem for a while, with Colt Brennan criticizing the program for not even being able to put soap in the locker rooms more than a decade ago.
However, when you are talking about things like “(accelerating) corrosion at the base of the diagonal cross bracing frames at the end zones” this problem is more serious than soap, and Hawaii football could struggle to find a home if they fail to act quickly.
If Hawaii chooses to wait to shell out the $30 million, one possibility is temporarily playing their home games at War Memorial Stadium in Maui. Hawaii has played games there before with the last one coming in 2001, a 30-12 win over Montana.
War Memorial Stadium also hosted the Hula Bowl from 1998-2005.
While War Memorial seats 23,000 and would likely be capable of accommodating a Hawaii football team that averages around 25,000 per home game and a Hawaii Bowl which struggles with low attendance even when Hawaii plays, this option is hardly feasible.
War Memorial Stadium is in Maui, which means the Warriors would have to fly into every home game, which would add to the already high travel costs for the program.
The other, more bold option is to build a new stadium. In early 2017, consultants proposed a 40,000 seat stadium that would cost $324.5 million to replace Aloha Stadium.
The same consultant’s report expresses concern that repairs like the ones needed over the next two years would be a common recurrence and would be more a fiscal burden than just building a new stadium.
It estimates $300 million in repairs would be required across the next 25 years; as we’ve already discussed with UAB’s situation at Legion Field or South Alabama and Ladd-Peebles, the window for improving Aloha Stadium may well have passed.
Hawaii has waited so long to keep up with these infrastructural problems, that it’s simply more beneficial to start from scratch with a new stadium.
Like those ALabama-based stadiums, the main arguments for keeping Aloha Stadium is its size. But Hawaii struggles with attendance even when they’re successful and the Pro Bowl isn’t returning anytime soon. A new stadium with reduced seating could not only accommodate the Warriors but the Hawaii Bowl as well, as the attendance stats show.
The benefits of a new stadium go beyond football. The new stadium requires 36% less square footage than Aloha Stadium. This allows for other civic venues to spring up and benefit the local neighborhood.
Renovation may seem like the safe step, but it’s no less cost effective and a new stadium is the more logical long-term approach. Doing away with Aloha Stadium can put the program and city on better footing and makes far more sense than continued temporary solutions like yearly renovations for the long-term problems at Aloha Stadium.
A renovation that reduces seating would be a good option as the stadium no longer has to worry about accommodating the Pro Bowl ever since the game moved to Orlando and is now considering moving to the sites of the Super Bowl.
It was only a couple of years ago when the school’s athletic director expressed concern over the deficit the program was facing. However, after their first eight-win season since 2010 and second bowl appearance in the last three years, the program has newfound momentum under Nick Rolovich.
Funding these renovations or furthermore, building the new stadium, would give the program much-needed stability. Whether Hawaii takes the safe step by renovating Aloha Stadium, or takes a chance by building a new stadium, they must act now.