Long-running efforts to deliver a new Aloha Stadium have again changed course with Governor of Hawai‘i, Josh Green, stating that a combined public-private partnership will be pursued for both the stadium and the planned mixed-use development.
The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) plan has been in the works since 2018 and has undergone multiple changes during this time. The previous vision, for which Request for Proposals (RFPs) had been issued, was seeking separate private-sector partners for the two elements of the project.
However, Green has now declared that the state will now pursue a unified contract with the private sector, with one partner responsible for developing, building, operating and maintaining the stadium, along with holding rights to mixed-use development in the surrounding area.
The latest news comes after Green in March said a new RFP process would be launched for the NASED project after stating his administration would not proceed with current plans owing to cost concerns.
The future of Aloha Stadium has been the subject of long-running debate in Hawai‘i. A previous plan had been in the works for two years when former Governor David Ige changed approach in September, opting instead to use state funding to develop a stand-alone stadium utilising a more traditional design-build contract.
Green in December had stated his commitment to restarting the public-private pathway, but pivoted to the stance adopted by his predecessor stating he and Finance Director Luis Salaveria couldn’t accept the potential for cost overruns.
Speaking yesterday (Thursday), Green said, according to the Star Advertiser: “After careful consideration and months of analysis, we have decided to pursue an integrated public-private-partnership approach for the project.
“This approach will not only provide us with a much-needed new stadium but also ensure long-term funding and cost overruns are managed by the private sector, reducing the burden on our local taxpayers.”
Aloha Stadium first opened in 1975, but has been closed for events since December 2020 due to chronic rust problems and deferred maintenance. The new Aloha Stadium erected in its place was due to be downsized from the existing stadium’s capacity of 50,000 seats to a capacity of 35,000.
NASED has now said the new stadium will be ready for the University of Hawai‘i’s 2028 college football season. With private funds also being sought, the state Legislature allocated $400m (£323.8m/€372.9m) during its 2022 session to build the new facility, which is now envisioning a minimum of 25,000 seats.
The mixed-use development will be developed over the next 20 years. “The Stadium Authority fully supports Gov. Green in his new direction for NASED,” Stadium Authority chair Brennon Morioka said. “We look forward to issuing the new procurement and being able to provide our community with a much-needed new stadium and a vibrant community district.”
The state has already spent around $25m over the past five years in planning the new stadium. NASED said that while RFPs previously issued have been scrapped, “much of the previous work to date can be repurposed in the new approach”.