The University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine soccer team will open its 2019 season playing on campus due to significant damage to its regular field at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
In late June, a chemical resin applied to WPSS’s concrete bleacher seating was washed off by heavy rain and onto the field fronting the stands on either side. UH, which receives a permit to play there from the city, will now play on the team’s practice site in Manoa, the Lower Campus Field adjacent to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium for its first two tournaments as the Waipio field is repaired.
The resin, epoxy, was meant to fortify the stands from the elements, and was applied by a contractor for the city Parks and Recreation department in late June. The interruption of the curing process by the rain was not anticipated, said parks spokesman Nathan Serota.
“It caught us by surprise. It was one of those things where it was unfortunate timing, when the epoxy was set in,” Serota said. “Not really … anyone to blame, per se. It was kind of a series of unfortunate incidents that happened to that bit of grass and damaged it.”
Grounds crews have worked to restore the browned or dead grass — which extended a few yards into the playing area on either side — and have set up water barriers along the stands to prevent further runoff.
Breaking: Here’s the current state of Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium’s field, which was damaged by a chemical resin this summer.#HawaiiWSOC has been displaced for its first two tournaments of the season and will play games on its practice field. https://t.co/c3D8EvpSti pic.twitter.com/1PdX6sGWIf
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) August 13, 2019
Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium is run by the City and has been home to the UH soccer program since the facility opened in 2000. The Rainbow Wahine have exclusive access to the field this time of year; no other leagues or teams had to be relocated because of the damage, according to parks director Michele Nekota. The stadium’s popular outlying fields were not affected.
UH opens the season against USC in the Outrigger Soccer Kickoff on Aug. 22, followed by San Francisco on Aug. 26. UH then hosts Nevada (Aug. 29) and Sacramento State (Aug. 31) in the Rainbow Wahine Soccer Invitational. All matches have been moved up to 3:30 p.m. because of the absence of lights at UH’s grass field, which has the same dimensions as the Waipio field. Other logistics, like portable seating, a scoreboard, and team locker room access is still being worked out by UH, which has notified the other teams of the situation.
UH does not play at home again until mid-September.
Serota expressed confidence that the Waipio field will be ready to play by then, adding that there has been considerable improvement to the playing pitch since the runoff incident.
“We’re pretty confident,” Serota said. “We have a really good grass maintenance staff, and the field was almost there for usability for the Wahine soccer team. It was an abundance of caution to try and make sure they can have it for the rest of the season.”
As of Monday, though, the Star-Advertiser observed much of the stadium field still appeared patchy and dead in spots.
UH coach Michele Nagamine said she is taking a “glass half-full” approach to the situation.
“Considering it is a public park, the staff is working as hard as they can, and likewise our staff on campus is working as hard as they can (to ready our field),” Nagamine said. “So although it breaks my heart to see such a nice field go through that kind of injury, I know that it’s not something that could be helped.”
The turf football field at UH’s T.C. Ching Athletics Complex is not available due to renovations being performed on the outlying track. In addition, the the team’s preference is to play on grass.
The last time UH played an official game on its grass practice field was against Hawaii Pacific on Sept. 25, 2013, in front of about 200 people. That was due to UH being unable to secure a permit to play at WPSS for the game added late to the schedule.
In 2014, Texas threatened not to play at WPSS in a season-opening tournament because of what it deemed as unsafe field conditions but eventually agreed to play after emergency maintenance and leveling repairs were conducted. There were no known field issues from then through the 2018 season.