New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District Project Update — December 14, 2023

New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District Project Update — December 14, 2023

New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District Project Update — December 14, 2023

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED DEC 14, 2023

HONOLULU — A press conference was held on the morning of December 14, 2023 by administration in charge of the new Aloha Stadium Entertainment District project to provide the general public with an update regarding the project, with state officials like Gov. Josh Green, Senator Glenn Wakai and representatives from Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s office in attendance to show unified support for the large undertaking for the state. 

Below are some of the key points and moments from Wednesday’s press conference in order of speakers and final miscellaneous questions. 

Governor Josh Green: 

  • Major questions of being able to undertake the project while providing the necessary aid to Maui following the wildfires are not a concern, Green said. The NASED project will not have any negative impact on the focus of rebuilding from the tragic loss. 
  • The integrated private-public partnership reduces the financial risk to the state, beginning today. Financial risk moves to the private sector as the project is on-going, along with some of the upside, as the stadium and housing around it is built. 
  • Building the stadium will benefit the community going into the future — $2 billion of economic output generated from construction spending alone, translating into 12,000 construction jobs and more than $600 million in construction wages. 
  • Expected 4,500 housing units will be built on-site and 70% of that housing will be targeted for the district’s workforce. “That’s very good for us because we’ve been struggling to build enough housing for our people over the last few years,” Green said. 
  • “This will be very good for our young people,” the governor said in reference to giving the youth something to celebrate, from high school football teams a stage that can display them the way they deserve. Green called the high school football in Hawai’i “vibrant” and remarked about the hope that the elite play and good that students provide the public. 
  • Green referenced supporting the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s football program, talking about the need to support it as a true Division I FBS program with an actual “great” stadium “befitting of a great state” being important.  

Senator Glenn Wakai: 

  • “This is quite a Christmas gift for the people of Hawai’i.” 
  • “It finally turns what was a long-time dream into a reality,” continued Wakai, referencing the public fatigue that the project has produced. 
  • Proudly stated that 12/14 was a marker of a clear, unified plan moving forward after “four years of coal” for the public at Christmas time after the closing of Aloha Stadium in 2019. 
  • “Customer-base is there” for the new NASED project, pointing out the Arizona Memorial close by and the 1.8 million annual visitors that rarely have something to do after visiting the powerful historical site.  
  • In reference to the rebuilding of Lahaina over the next decade, Wakai talked about instead of exorbitant tax hikes on local residents in Hawai’i that the entertainment district and other monetized locations can help ease that financial burden on the public.  
  • “It’s more than just a stadium, it’s going to be a hugely vibrant and dynamic district for all of us to relish,” Wakai wrapped up saying. 

Aloha Stadium Authority Chair Brennon Morioka: 

  • Discussed the cancellation of the previous procurements before settling on the new single design Build-Operate-Maintain procurement for the stadium and surrounding real-estate areas. 
  • The powers in charge of the project vetted the plan with extensive market sounding and due diligence, engaging with the stakeholders that will be participating. 
  • Market sounding process “[identified] a number of interested potential bidders” that elicited excitement amongst the group. 
  • Multiple issues were also found throughout the process that have since been taken care of and worked through with the stakeholders that will hopefully provide for a better final product. 
  • Echoed belief that the project (stadium & entertainment district) will greatly benefit the state along with the stakeholders involved, discussing financial upswing that could be provided long term. 
  • Acknowledges that in the short-term, there are financial challenges that a partner or developer will “have to buy into and overcome” which is why the preference for a partner is focused on a long-term result of the community involved as well. 
  • Looking at one integrated Private-Public Partnership with a single entity engaged as the master developer for the 100-acre Aloha Stadium district. 
  • New Aloha Stadium will have a minimum of 25,000 seats with premium suites, lounges, and boxes. 
  • Stadium expected to be built to handle not just football, but also “world-class soccer and rugby” while serving as a major concert venue along with other entertainment events. 
  • “We will be utilizing the current $400-million appropriation and long-term funding, and cost overruns will be borne by the private sector, thus reducing risks for the state.” 
  • Master developer is obligated to develop the surrounding district into a mixed-use development “in line” with the vision of the state and city. 
  • The deadline for qualifications is set for February 2024, the priority-listed offerors will be selected in April 2024 and the initial proposals will be due in Summer 2024.  
  • The selected preferred offeror will come in the fall of 2024, kicking off further negotiations with said-preferred offeror with the intent of a contract to be executed by the following summer in 2025. 
  • As of now, the 2028 Hawai’i football home opener against Kansas is on-target to have kickoff inside the new Aloha Stadium.  

UH President David Lassner: 

  • The university fully supports and embraces the PPP approach in identifying a master developer who will design, build and maintain the new Aloha Stadium district in Haleiwa. 
  • The old Aloha Stadium presented UH with unanticipated financial challenges after moving home games for the Rainbow Warriors on campus to Clarence T.C. Ching Complex. 
  • New Aloha Stadium will provide Hawai’i football with a “modern venue” that should help enable the program to play and compete at the FBS level and attract talent that will make the people of the state proud. 
  • The financial impact of home games being moved to NASED will assist in funding for the university’s non-revenue sports, allowing those programs to have a better chance to thrive. 

Misc. Question Responses (answered by Morioka unless otherwise stated): 

  • Regarding 25K seats in new stadium, possibility for more:  
      • “The private developer will have the opportunity to use their innovation… tell us what they can build, what they can afford and in what way, so that way if they want to offer something that is more than 25,000 seats, they want to offer other kinds of amenities that are above the minimum requirements, then they’ll score more points… potentially winning this solicitation.” 
  • Regarding developer’s revenue and main sources of income to supplement support of build: 
      • “We will work with the developer teams on their financial proposals as well. Their revenue is going to come from a variety of sources… concerts, etc.” 
      • University of Hawai’i, high school football games won’t be income for partner but most of all other events will be to help offset costs of maintaining the district after construction. 
  • Who will be making the decision on the final proposal that wins? 
      • “We have a selection committee that is responsible for evaluating proposals. They will be the ones tasked with making that decision and recommendation going forward… We are able to supplement this committee with subject matter experts.” 
      • “I think all of us have the same interests in getting something we are all going to be happy with.” 
      • Stadium Authority will be the direct overseer of this contract. 
  • On the possibility of expansion of the stadium: 
      • Part of the understanding with developers will be an ability to expand and update the stadium, whether it be an increase in seating or an addition of a roof for the structure. 
  • On if UH would have an opportunity to be greatly involved in the surrounding entertainment district (a la SDSU): 
      • “What the distract will look like is still on the table… There is a whole variety of opportunity.” 
  • Governor Josh Green on economic opportunity surrounding the district: 
      • “Economic opportunity zones are very tax favorable and this one goes until 2047, so the people who invest and build [the NASED project] … [they will have] some federal tax benefits and that helps balance out the desire for investment.” 
  • On the expected amount of interested parties in comparison to the original three:  
      • “We’re hoping for more, but we do know that the three that participated before are still interested. What the final number looks like is to be seen [in February 2024]. 
  • On if the stadium is expected to be done before the surrounding entertainment district: 
      • “The requirement for the stadium is basically to finish it before the fall of 2028. The rest of the development can come whenever they look at the market demands… we do believe that development will probably start concurrent or shortly after the construction of the stadium.” 
      • The possibility remains of the stadium being completed earlier in 2028, allowing for smaller events to occur before the Rainbow Warriors’ home opener. That is the preference, though not a requirement. 
  • Regarding demolition of the old Aloha Stadium: 
      • Comes down to the cost & risk management standpoint on why the demolition of the old stadium hasn’t begun.  
      • “We’re trying to be very sensitive and save money for the state and taxpayers… trying to ensure that we aren’t going to be spending [the 400 million taxpayer dollars] on things other than building the stadium.” 
  • Governor Josh Green on the housing expectations and if he is the one who should be held accountable regarding the success of the project in 5 years: 
      • “Absolutely, it’s our administration that has to be accountable.” 
      • At least 20% of the housing needs to be affordable with hopes that the number will be more, which will be calculated in the bid process. 
      • 70% workforce housing is important to community for development in the future as well. 

 

Governor Green shared that future updates would be on the way to keep communication open through the process.