POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 21, 2011
Nine months after the adoption of a controversial student athletic fee at the University of Hawaii, athletic department and student government representatives were told to end their impasse over where to locate student seating.
With the football and women's volleyball season ticket renewals to begin soon, the UH Board of Regents committee on student affairs ordered the two parties to "find the middle ground" on seating and other issues on Tuesday.
Seating at Aloha Stadium and the Stan Sheriff Center is the major point of contention since agreement has been reached on Les Murakami Stadium, both sides said.
For their $50 per semester fee, which will produce approximately $1.7 million annually for the athletic department, students want seats in prime locations for football and the arena sports.
Under the agreement, they are to be guaranteed 5,000 seats for each home football game and 515 for each arena sports event.
But athletic director Jim Donovan told regents, "The seat locations that the students requested were in a neighborhood of 90 percent-plus sold out to season-ticket holders, who pay a premium. Essentially, they are 50-yard line area seats and center-court seats for arena sports."
"It will be a tremendous PR nightmare if we try to move people out of sections that are 90 percent-plus full of season-ticket holders."
Andrew Itsuno, president of the Associated Students of UH, said that at Aloha Stadium, "They put us in the upper sections — UU, TT, SS and RR — which are behind the scoreboard. You can't really see the scoreboard or live screen television and you can't see the people on the field, either. And, so you would have to, I guess, imagine how much alcohol you would need to drink to be able to enjoy those seats."
Although the student fee was not assessed until January of this year, Donovan said students were provided seats beginning last Sept. 15, "on a goodwill basis" and they were taken from the available inventory. He said they hope to "phase students into sections next to where the students already existed."
Itsuno said, "OK, you guys collected the fee, but is it going to be 10 years from now that we finally start seeing change? Twenty? Sixty?"
Donovan said the seats were valued at $2 million.
"So, if we severely shift the seats into the 50-yard line seats or center-court seats, you're going to be going into much more valuable seating," said Donovan. "And that means we'll have to go back and take a look at what we charge for the seats. I'm not proposing that, but that's the reason we came up with $50."