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Oahu’s New Aloha Stadium

Long-time home of the National Football League’s Pro Bowl, host of famous artists like Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson, and venue for the popular Swap Meet, the Aloha Stadium has been a central feature of Oahu for over forty years.

By REAL. Updated Aug 06, 2022 | Living in Hawaii | 8 min. read

When Aloha Stadium was first built, it was a state-of-the-art facility with four moveable sections, allowing the 50,000-seat stadium to be configured to a football, soccer, or baseball field.

But now, it's showing signs of aging, salt-water weathering, code non-compliance, and lack of amenities. The State of Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) published reports showing the current stadium needs $300 million in health and safety repairs and another $121 million for the stadium to be compliant with ADA laws.

New Oahu Stadium

Instead of putting millions of dollars into repairing the old Oahu stadium, in 2019, the state legislature appropriated $350 million for building a new stadium. The state also plans to partner with a private developer to form a public-private partnership.

This will be more than a stadium – but the project is called the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) and has plans for a live, work, and play community for both Hawaii residents and visitors to the island. The current 98-acre Aloha Stadium site in Halawa, near the community of Aiea, will be transformed to include the following and more:

The Aloha Stadium Timeline

Despite delays to the Aloha Stadium district project have caused people in Hawaii to start comparing Aloha Stadium to the Honolulu Rail Transit project, officials say they are carefully planning pre-construction to ensure the budget is maintained.

Chris Kinimaka, from the State of Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), said, “One of the hallmarks of our project is that we are taking the time up front to get the planning, scoping, and budgeting as complete and accurate as possible.”

The initiative has been divided into 2 separate projects; the Stadium project and the Real Estate project. Each have different timelines, however, both projects are scheduled to release the Request for Proposal (RFP) in the 3rd quarter of 2022 and award the contract in early 2023.

Here is the Aloha Stadium timeline as of August 2022:

  1. May 2021 - Market outreach occurs.
  2. October 2021 - Round 1 of Request for Proposals (RFP) accepted to decide priority teams for building the stadium.
  3. Q3 2022 - Round 2 of RFPs accepted.
  4. 2023 - Contract Award.
  5. Late 2023 - Construction begins.
  6. 2026 - Anticipated completion date for Hawaii's new Aloha Stadium.
  7. 2033-2038 - The full build-out of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District is expected to have several phases, which will be completed over the next 10 to 15 years after the new Aloha Stadium Opens.

What is the current status of construction on Aloha Stadium?

Announced in December 2020, the state chose the top three developers from their RFQ process for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District during summer 2020. Six developer groups responded to the request for qualifications (RFQ) by the end of May 2020, and the evaluation committee chose three finalists. In January of 2022, it was announced that two teams were left in the running. These remaining two finalists will be asked to submit request for proposals (RFP) to contend to be the final developer and manager for the Aloha Stadium project around October 2022.

The following are the two finalists:

  1. Aloha Stadium District Partners – Lead equity members include New York-based Development Ventures Group Inc., Honolulu-based Stanford Carr Development LLC, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., WATG, SB Architects, Rebound Associates, Colliers, Wilson Okamoto Corp., NBBJ LP, DTL and Bennet Group.
  2. Waiola Development Partners – Lead equity members include EllisDon Capital Inc., Kobayashi Group LLC, and BSC Acquisitions II LLC.

During the RFP, each finalist will propose their own designs for the stadium in addition to plans for the construction, finance, and maintenance of the facility on 20 acres of land adjacent to the current stadium.

“Due to the delays caused by COVID-19 and the non-passage of [the Aloha Stadium bill] this year, the procurement schedule has been amended accordingly,” said Chris Kinimaka, public works administrator for the Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). “We expect to test and confirm the stadium opening date as part of the RFP stage.”

Despite the COVID-19 delays, these two qualified development teams will soon be able to submit an RFP in October 2022. It is expected that the winning team will be paid to demolish the old Aloha Stadium and build a new facility with about 35,000 seats on 20 acres next to the current stadium. This team will also have a contract to maintain the stadium for the next 30 to 40 years.

Drafts of the selected Master Plan as well as the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which cost the state $5,000,000, were released in summer 2020.

See below for the three options to help you envision what the future Aloha Stadium will look like! These documents were completed by Crawford Architects, who has also worked on the Minnesota Vikings stadium and a number of university stadiums, such as South Dakota State University and Penn State University.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published on December 23, 2020, and the public comment period concluded on February 8, 2021. The NASED held virtual community meetings and comments could also be emailed at any time.

NASED also says a separate and specific archeological inventory survey (AIS) is currently happening, although not a requirement of the EIS. This AIS is to ensure no historical or culturally significant resources are impacted.

Who is going to pay for the new Aloha Stadium?

The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District is being touted as a Public-Private Partnership (P3), meaning the selected developer will blend public state funds with the resources of the private development businesses to flexibly leverage the best of both the public and private sectors.

In July 2019, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed Act 268, which appropriated $350 million for an Aloha Stadium redevelopment project. $20 million were general funds. $180 million were revenue bonds, and $150 million were general obligation bonds to construct the new stadium. Revenue bonds are secured by a specific revenue source, and the interest and principal are expected to be repaid, meaning the NASED is expected to generate income upon completion, and the millions that the state has allocated will need to be paid back with that income.

However, funding for Aloha Stadium has been at a standstill. In 2020, Hawaii Senate Bill 2940, which would have developed a special stadium development fund, died in chamber. To continue forward with the work on Aloha Stadium, DAGS got creative, asking the board of the Hawaii Community Development Authority to request $10 million from Governor Ige in January 2021 to complete the environmental study, RFP process, and successfully hand of the project to a private development. As of writing, there was hope the Governor would approve the $10 million request despite the state’s economic setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June 2021, the state of Hawaii said the stadium replacement cost estimate had now risen to $423 million. The idea now is that the state can lease 78-acres to a private developer to produce a new residential and commercial community that would generate revenue for the state, offsetting the costs to build a new stadium and hopefully minimizing tax rate increase to build the new Aloha Stadium on Oahu.

“What we’re anticipating is a mix of residential, retail/entertainment, hotels, hopefully, (and) some office because we’d also like this to be not just a live, play, ,thrive environment, but also work,” said Stacey Jones, senior principal of Crawford Architects.

Is Aloha Stadium Open now for the Swap Meet?

The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet in Honolulu is an enticing event for both visitors and residents of Hawaii, and it is said it will continue to be held despite possible construction. Aloha Stadium is open for COVID-19 vaccines on Sundays and is also open for the Swap Meet with many booths selling local products, trinkets, crafts, and delicious food on these days:

The New Aloha Stadium Building Options

Officials from the NASED attended public and community meetings in 2019 and early 2020, sharing conceptual drawings of what the new Oahu stadium might look like. These different options show how different locations for the new Aloha Stadium can provoke different development around it. The developers and design teams will explore these options and others before finalizing an ideal design for the new Aloha Stadium.

In all options, it is expected that stadium games, events, and swap meets will continue without interruption.

Option A

This plan tears down the current stadium and reconstructs a new stadium on top of the current site. According to the environmental impact statement preparation notice, the old stadium would be incrementally demolished and replaced, allowing for use of the stadium throughout construction.

Source: Crawford Architects
Source: Crawford Architects

Option B

The new Aloha Stadium would be west of the current facility. In this scenario, the existing stadium would remain completely operational while the new stadium is being built. The demolition site of the old Aloha Stadium would be repurposed as an outdoor performance venue and community recreation space.

Source: Crawford Architects
Source: Crawford Architects

Option C

The new Oahu Stadium would be to the south of the current facility. Like Option B, the old stadium would remain completely operation while the new Oahu Stadium is being built. The old stadium site would be reconstructed into a new central recreation space with a grid street pattern.

Source: Crawford Architects
Source: Crawford Architects

All of the proposed stadium options will offer an array of entertainment - football, soccer, rugby, concerts, community functions, family-oriented events – as well as luxurious seating, extensive concessions, and improved facilities. Whichever option is chosen, residents and visitors can look forward to a new Aloha Stadium – although it is now unknown when it will be open for University of Hawaii football season.

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