For the first time this training camp, the University of Hawaii football team today conducted a full 2-hour practice at the retrofitted Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex on the school’s lower campus.
“I think it’s definitely special,” safety Khoury Bethley said. “Just coming out on the turf and being able to be on it for the first time, I was excited. It looks really good to me. It looks way better when you’re on the field, too, than when you’re sitting outside looking at it from the construction angle and all that. I was excited. I can’t wait to play on it this season.”
The Rainbow Warriors were forced to seek a new home site after being told Aloha Stadium would no longer be available for spectator events because of structural concerns at the 46-year-old Halawa facility.
UH officials opted to play the Warriors’ home football games on campus, retrofitting Ching into a 9,000-seat venue. If zoning requests are approved, Ching could expand to at least 15,000 seats next year.
The project called for installing bleachers that were prefabricated on the mainland, setting up a two-way video scoreboard, and putting in a two-toned AstroTurf field. The Warriors used an adjacent grass field for the first five practices of training camp.”
“Being here since freshman year (in 2018), and seeing what the turf looked like before and seeing what it looks like now, it’s real nice,” left tackle Ilm Manning said. “It’s even better than Aloha Stadium.”
Head coach Todd Graham said the field has to “settle,” and that that the rubber granules are still loose. But he praised the project, saying, “I really think it’s a major competitive advantage to practice on the field you play on.”
Graham said the experience will be heightened on Sept. 4, when the Warriors play host to Portland State in the home opener.
“I think what’s going to be awesome is when we play our first game here,” Graham said. “And for our students, and to be on campus, is going to be big time.”