The University of Hawaii projects that expenses to play football games on its Manoa campus will exceed revenues by $400,000 a year compared with Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii athletic director David Matlin shared the estimate with the university’s Board of Regents this morning.
The figure suggests that UH athletic operations will have an extra financial deficit of $1.2 million over the next three years to carry out what leaders deem as their best option to continue the football program after a state agency informed UH in December that Aloha Stadium would not be viable for games this year or available in 2022 or 2023 because it is slated to be demolished to make way for a replacement.
Hawaii athletics have historically produced annual financial losses roughly between $2 million and $4 million, but because of COVID-19 a $8.3 million loss is projected for the fiscal year ending in June.
Next year, the loss is expected to be $4.9 million, though not all of the football program costs are factored into that.
UH plans to retrofit its Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex in Manoa at an estimated cost of $6 million to make the practice facility suitable for 10,000 fans, TV broadcasts and teams.
The decision was made after assessing other options that included playing all games on the mainland, at Oahu high school football fields and neighbor island venues.
The first home game this season for the Rainbow Warriors is Sept. 4 against Portland State. UH has six games this year, and six or seven games in the following two years.
Changes planned for Ching Field include increasing seating capacity from 3,585 to about 10,000, relocating scoreboards and game clocks from Aloha Stadium, adding a locker room for visitors, installing player benches, creating concession facilities and building a press box. Turf replacement is also happening this year but was previously scheduled and is not part of the emergency overhaul.
Matlin said UH anticipates earning revenue from games at Ching Field, but that expenses are expected to exceed costs by $400,000 a year.
The deficit potentially could be covered for by donations, taxpayers, expense cuts, new revenue sources or perhaps some other way.
Aloha Stadium has been the home field for UH football since the facility opened in 1975.
UH typically receives more than $5.1 million in annual revenue from football games at Aloha Stadium, including $4.4 million from ticket sales and seat premiums, $700,000 from priority parking, and additional income from TV, radio and corporate sponsorships.
The state’s Stadium Authority is pursuing replacement of the 50,000-seat Halawa stadium with a new 35,000-seat stadium by late 2023 in partnership with a private developer, though UH officials don’t believe a new stadium will be ready for the 2023 football season.