Know Your Stadiums: Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium

December 1, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The University of Hawaii play their home games at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The stadium also hosts the Hawaii Bowl and has been home to the NFL’s Pro Bowl game since 1980 (except 2010) and the NCAA’s Hula Bowl from 1975 through 1997 and again in 2006.

Aloha Stadium also hosts numerous high school football games during the season and is a venue for large concerts and events. One of which is a swap meet in the parking lot every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday which draws large crowds.

The stadium is located west of downtown Honolulu and two miles north of Honolulu International Airport. It was built in 1975 at a cost of $37 million as a replacement for the aging Honolulu Stadium that was demolished in 1976.

The first football game held at the stadium was between the University of Hawaii and Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) on September 13, 1975 in front of a crowd of 32,247.

Aloha Stadium can be reconfigured into a number of different configurations for different sporting events and other purposes. It was actually the first stadium in the United States that featured this capability.

There are four movable sections, each weighing 3.5 million pounds and with the capacity of 7,000, can be moved via air casters into a diamond configuration for baseball (and also used for soccer), an oval for football, or a triangle for concerts.

In 2003 the stadium surface was changed from the original AstroTurf that had been in place since the stadium opened to FieldTurf.

Then in July 2011 the field was upgraded to UBU Sports Speed S5-M synthetic turf system that features removable Active Panels as part of a multimillion dollar renovation to the stadium. This synthetic turf covers 110,000 square feet and has 22 removable Active Panels located in seven locations. The Removable Active Panels have inlaid logos for the University of Hawaii, Aloha Bowl and blank panels in order to accommodate the NFL Pro Bowl and NCAA Bowl Games so they can be custom pained for each event.

A 2005 study by a Honolulu engineering firm determined that the stadium required $99 million to be completely restored and would require an additional $115 million for ongoing maintenance and refurbishment over the next 20 years to extend its useful lifespan.

In January 2007 the stadium was permanently locked into its football configuration because of cost and maintenance issues. An engineer from Rolair Systems, the NASA spin-off company that engineering the system, claimed that the problem was caused by a concrete contractor that ignored specifications for the concrete pads under the stadium.

The State of Hawaii lawmakers have had numerous discussions concerning the physical condition of the stadium. There are several issues regarding rusting of the facility, hence the nickname “The Rust Bucket”, several hundred seats that need to be replaced and restroom facilities that need to be expanded to accommodate more patrons.

Then in early 2007 the state legislature proposed to spend $300 million to build a new facility as opposed to spending an estimated $216 million to extend the life of Aloha Stadium for another 20-30 years. This new stadium would be used to lure a NFL Super Bowl in the near future, possibly targeting 2016.

One council member said that if immediate repairs are not made within the next seven years, the stadium will probably need to be demolished due to safety concerns. Thus in May of 2007, the state alloted $12.4 million to be used towards removing corrosion and rust from the structure.

In 2008, the state of Hawaii approved the bill of $185 million to refurbish the aging stadium. In 2010, they completely retrofitted its scoreboard and video screen to be more up to date with high definition capability. The Aloha Stadium Authority plans to add more luxury suites, replacing all seats, rusting treatments, parking lots, more restrooms, pedestrian bridge supports, enclosed lounge and more. There is also a proposal to close the four open corners of the stadium to add more seats.

The stadium has been home to a number of events during it’s existence. The Police performed their final US tour on their Synchronicity Tour on February 25, 1984. Michael Jackson’s HIStory World Tour landed there on January 3-4, 1997 for his only US shows that decade and was the first person to sell out the stadium. Among other big concerts.

Aerial view of Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium on a University of Hawaii football gameday.