University of Hawaii might play football games on campus

  • After Aloha Stadium officials insisted the 45-year-old Halawa stadium is unfit for new events, the University of Hawaii at Manoa has announced they’re prepared to play home football games on campus moving forward. (George F. Lee/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, file)

In a game of political football, the University of Hawaii went on offense.

UH announced it is prepared to play its home football games on its campus, beginning with the Sept. 4 meeting against Portland.

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The move is in response to Aloha Stadium officials’ insistence that the 45-year-old Halawa stadium is unfit for new events because of safety issues. A proposed new stadium at the Halawa site will not open until at least 2023.

“The recent announcement regarding the limitations of Aloha Stadium — home of our Rainbow Warrior football team for more than 40 years—has created an opportunity,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in a release. “We are committed to transforming the Clarence T.C. Ching athletics complex into a viable venue for our football team to play home games for at least the next three years. There is a lot of work and collaboration to be done, including with the City &County and our neighbors, but we are extremely excited about this opportunity and see enormous potential in playing on campus for the first time in our history. Our goal is to offer a more intimate experience for our fans and a direct path for our student body to engage and create a true college football atmosphere.”

Ching Complex currently can hold a listed 2, 500 fans. But the sight lines are too low from the metal bleaches across the concrete seating.

There have been discussions to add bleacher seats that could expand the seating capacity up to 15, 000. A viewing area also could be arranged at the neighboring five-level parking structure.

The funding already has been approved to resurface the field and to install a video scoreboard.

Among the proposals being explored is to add temporary “luxury boxes,” much like the “suites” used at the Sony Open and other golf events. Each tented suite at the Sony can comfortably accommodate 20 spectators.

There also is a possibility that food booths could be set up at Les Murakami Stadium.

Since relocating from Honolulu Stadium, the Warriors have played all but one of their home games at Aloha Stadium. The 2001 opener was played at War Memorial Stadium on Maui. But that game needed additional prep work, including using green spray paint to cover patches of dirt.

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There are hurdles to address before playing games at Ching. UH still would need the city’s approval to host such widely attended games.

There also is a possibility that repairs to Aloha Stadium could be financed and made before the start of UH’s 2021 season.