Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Aloha Stadium as we know it could soon be saying 'aloha'

By Richard Borreca


If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, then the subset must be going to Aloha Stadium over and over and expecting it to get better.

Aloha Stadium opened in 1975 with the twin promises of moveable stands and no-upkeep rust-free steel.

Today, the stands don't move and rust is rust, meaning rusty girders have to be replaced.

And it turns out the Abercrombie administration also wants to replace the stadium authority and perhaps even the 50,000-seat facility.

Last week Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who appears to be running the state by fiat rather than consensus (motto: "I am the governor, I am not your pal"), asked the nine-member authority to resign, making way for his own people.

The stadium authority has always been a political playground for Hawaii governors. Authority members include friends and supporters of the governor and trusted officials who will see things the governor's way and not cause trouble. Contributors, kitchen Cabinet members and just good old buddies of the governor wind up on the stadium authority.

The stadium also features a "governor's box," a two-level suite up in the end zone, which while not luxurious is private with entrance by invitation only.

Abercrombie's spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said the governor has "set forth his vision for meeting the challenges of the state and Aloha Stadium is an important part of the administration's plans to manage the state's resources and reinvigorate the economy."

If Abercrombie sees Aloha Stadium in his vision, it is not a sight that he wants to spend any more state money on.

In his State of the State address, he pulled the funding out of a $59 million planned upgrade.

"I am proposing that we look at what we want to do other than sink money into a structure that has had hundreds of millions of dollars of repairs to this point and requires hundreds of millions more and won't last more than another 20 years," Abercrombie said.

This is true. Aloha Stadium is not the Roman Colosseum, it is not on the historic register and, while during the football season it is a great place to spot old friends, no one really hopes to spend more time than necessary in its confines.

So if he gets his way, what would Abercrombie do with the stadium?

For an arbitrary "my way or the highway" type of governor such as Abercrombie, the exact mission, purpose and even location for the stadium is a big question.

During the 2010 campaign, Abercrombie repeatedly promised to give the stadium to the University of Hawaii. In his State of the State address, Abercrombie switched that to mean he would put together a panel including UH officials to "consider the future of sports and the future development on Oahu to make a definitive decision on Aloha Stadium and any future stadium we might build."

Back in 2009, in an interview explaining his decision to run for governor, Abercrombie told me he would like to see the existing stadium razed. He said he would allow the more than 100 acres of centrally located property to be developed and require the developers to build a new stadium.

It all amounts to a lot of questions and controversy that may result in an offered seat on the stadium authority becoming political punishment rather than a political plum.


Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at

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