Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium, the setting for the hula competition, recently underwent $3.4 million in renovations just in time for the 50th Merrie Monarch Festival. Besides a new, 4,200-square-foot multipurpose building with six dressing rooms, there is now an expanded lobby and larger concession area with new lighting and roof coverings. The stadium — still often referred to as the Edith Kanaka‘ole Tennis Stadium — also had restrooms and its electrical system improved.
Outside, visitors will find a new color scheme, landscaping and covered side entrances. The new dressing rooms, built on two unused tennis courts, are expected to make the stadium much more accommodating for dancers. With limited dressing rooms at the stadium, many halau had to change in Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale nearby, at their hotels or in a curtained-off nook below the bleachers.
The stadium, originally called Ho‘olulu Stadium, was later renamed in honor of kumu hula Edith Kanaka‘ole, who died in 1979.
Every year the Merrie Monarch stage is built from the ground up at the stadium. The surface for many years has been the same: plywood and tape. The stage measures about 56 feet wide by 46 feet long (made up of 4-by-8-foot plywood pieces) and is raised three feet high with a ramp at each corner.