Aloha Stadium redevelopment draws competitors

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Nov. 17—The state will be a step closer to awarding the winning contract in December. A new stadium is expected to be up and running in time for the 2028 football season.

At least three viable teams will compete to develop, build, operate and maintain a new Aloha Stadium and construct real estate in the adjoining New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District, state officials said Thursday.

The state will be a step closer to awarding the winning contract in December. A new stadium is expected to be up and running in time for the 2028 football season.

"We are on schedule to release the RFQ (request for qualifications ) in mid ­-December, " Stadium Authority board chair Brennan Morioka said at Thursday's monthly meeting. "We are very much looking forward to that significant milestone."

The teams are composed of local construction firms partnered with entities from outside of Hawaii that have experience operating and maintaining stadiums, state Sen. Glenn Wakai said.

"Whole different sets of skills are involved now, " said Wakai, who represents communities adjacent to the stadium site in Halawa. "Just because you can build it doesn't mean you know how to get them to come."

Getting started on the new field of dreams has suffered nightmarish delays due to changes in direction on how it will be financed, and differing opinions on the benefits of a public-­private partnership that includes development around the stadium.

In May, though, Morioka, Wakai and others involved said they received clear direction from Gov. Josh Green.

Green's adjusted NASED plan has one private entity charged with developing, building, operating and maintaining the stadium while receiving rights to mixed-use development in the surrounding area.

A previous plan called for two private-sector teams—one for the stadium itself and another for the district.

The version now in play, with just one private partner, is designed to prevent state taxpayers from possibly having to finance more than the $400 million allocated to build the stadium by the state Legislature in 2022.

Former Gov. David Ige tried to change course in 2022, late in his second term, to a traditional design-and-build model that did not include other development.

As a candidate for governor, Green voiced support for NASED as long as affordable housing was included. After he took office in December, Green's admini ­stration determined the split-project approach would put too much risk of future funding on the state.

The most recent plans are for capacity for 25, 000, with possible expansion. Planners also hope for a mixed-use venue that can host football, soccer, rugby, major concerts and other events.

The nonstadium part of the Halawa project will be built over the next 20 years, and the state would end up owning the stadium in 20 or 30 years, according to planners.

The University of Hawaii and high school football teams played at Aloha Stadium from its opening in 1975 through the 2020 season. The stadium was closed after the Jan. 31, 2021, Hula Bowl, but the Aloha Stadium swap meet and one-time events like concerts and MMA fights are still hosted outside of the stadium.

A concert on Feb. 10 including the Jets, Fat Joe and Mya, and Bonafide was approved Thursday by the board.

The Jets scored big with five Billboard Hot 100 top-10 singles, including "Crush on You, " which reached No. 3 in 1986. The band, scheduled to play on the Aloha Stadium grounds, includes five original members of the Tongan American family band from Minnesota, promoter Virginia Toale ­­‑ pai said. Go to toalepai for ticket information.

The Aloha State Bicycle Racing Association was also approved to hold a March 23 event featuring bicycle education and a race.