Hawaii needs to spend millions of dollars to have a suitable home stadium in 2021.
Aloha Stadium, Hawaii’s longtime home stadium, has been barred from having fans due to structural issues. That announcement in December has left the school looking for a place to play home games. And on Tuesday, Hawaii announced that it would cost approximately $6 million to make improvements to its own facilities so that the team can play on campus next season.
The school said that preliminary plans for home games will be presented to the Board of Regents on Thursday. Hawaii plans for the team to play at Ching Field and needs to upgrade the stadium’s current seating capacity. The Ching Athletic Complex stadium currently seats just over 3,500 people and the school wants to boost that capacity to about 10,000.
Those upgrades will include infrastructure improvements, the transfer of scoreboards from Aloha Stadium and other miscellaneous expenses in addition to the added seating capacity.
The Aloha Stadium Authority announced in December that it wouldn’t have any new events at the stadium and cited the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as the reason why. However, a report from KHOU2 in Honolulu said that the stadium was set to be condemned because of physical issues that have plagued the stadium for years. A 2019 story said the stadium needed $30 million in repairs.
Aloha Stadium was the site of the NFL’s Pro Bowl for 33 years between 1980-2013. Sunday night’s Hula Bowl college All-Star game could have been the last football game at the stadium.
Why Hawaii needs to make renovations at Ching Field
The inability to have games at Aloha Stadium put Hawaii in a pinch. Unlike many states across the country, Hawaii only has one large football stadium across the entire state and traveling to a different island for games presents logistical challenges.
A 10,000-seat Ching Field would be the smallest stadium for any team at the top level of college football. But it’s ideally only a two-year solution for the Rainbow Warriors. A new Aloha Stadium that seats 35,000 people is in the works and has a planned 2023 opening. The process for the new stadium began long before Aloha Stadium abruptly became unavailable.
FBS teams have long been required to have an average attendance of 15,000 people once in a rolling two-year period to maintain their status at the top level of college football. But many teams, including Hawaii, didn’t have fans at games in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic’s impacts on 2020 attendance and potential 2021 fan capacities across the country may cause the NCAA to modify that rule.
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