Increased powers given to Hawaii agency overseeing stadium

HONOLULU — A bill introduced at the state Legislature would broaden the powers of the state agency managing the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium.

The bill to give the Stadium Authority greater redevelopment oversight is aimed at overcoming time lost last year when lawmakers failed to agree on a measure to advance the project, Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

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The project to revamp the 50,000-seat stadium in Honolulu is estimated at more than $300 million.

Democratic state Sen. Glenn Wakai, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the legislation would give the Stadium Authority super powers regarding procurement, permitting and other project aspects.

“I’m calling this the Stadium Avenger Authority,” Wakai told the agency’s board at a meeting Thursday, referring to a group of Marvel Comics superheroes.

Redevelopment project leaders hope to produce a new 35,000-seat stadium in time for the 2023 University of Hawaii football season, but the timetable has been in doubt.

The measure would statutorily attach the agency to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency with broad regulatory tools for land redevelopment mainly limited to the Kakaako and Kalaeloa areas of Oahu.

Unlike a 2019 decision to have the development authority take the lead overseeing redevelopment of the state-owned stadium site, the proposed bill would give the Stadium Authority the same powers as the development authority and sole jurisdiction over the site.

The bill’s passage will allow the Stadium Authority to move the process more quickly than a normal government agency, Wakai told its board members.

“We don’t want to have too many layers of government, so we’re not going to put the Stadium Authority under HCDA,” Wakai said. “You are going to be the board for this new district.”

The state Department of Accounting and General Services in December identified three preferred private development partners with a goal of picking a winning partner by the end of this year.

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The department has not yet published a request for proposals specifying key provisions for bid proposals.

The winning bidder will negotiate detailed terms for financing, building and maintaining the new facility and rights to redevelop surrounding state property that could include housing, retail and other uses under a land lease.

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