Citing the ongoing woes with the city’s troubled rail project, Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced he is nixing plans for a major renovation at Neal S. Blaisdell Center.
The controversial overhaul for the 22-acre Blaisdell campus called for demolishing and replacing the existing arena, exhibition hall and parking structure. The plan called for closing for about three years beginning in November.
A number of critics have assailed the plan, including area elected officials City Council members Ann Kobayashi and Carol Fukunaga and House Speaker Scott Saiki.
The decision is a “disappointing” development because “we fully believe that major renovations are needed in order for the Blaisdell to best serve the community and to attract world class events and attractions to Honolulu for our local residents,” Caldwell said in a release.
“The city has determined that it is not prepared to go forward with the major renovation of the Neal Blaisdell Center at this time,” Caldwell said in a release. “Given that the final construction cost is yet unknown for the last 4.16 miles of our rail system and the city’s financial responsibilities for the operations of the upcoming rail service, in addition to a new administration and City Council starting in less than one year, we decided that it is a logical time to pause the project.”
Instead, “for the short term, we plan to now focus on addressing some much needed deferred maintenance, and to keep the Blaisdell as fully operational as possible during the maintenance projects,” Caldwell said. “In addition, for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 budget, we’ll be considering the significant renovation of one or more of our performance venues, at a reduced scope and cost. I want to emphasize that the planning and design for a modernized Neal Blaisdell Center resulted in an excellent and exciting vision for this facility, and I hope that the future administration will take advantage of it, in whole or in part.”