University of Hawaii looks to add 6K seats to practice field

HONOLULU (AP) — The University of Hawaii could add more than 6,400 seats to its practice football field to play games there over the next three years if Aloha Stadium remains closed.
The estimated $6 million upgrade of the Clarence T. C. Ching Athletic Complex on the school’s Manoa campus would include moving scoreboards from the larger stadium on Oahu.
Preliminary concepts and cost estimates are scheduled be presented to the university’s Board of Regents during a joint meeting of the Intercollegiate Athletics and Budget & Finance committees Thursday.
The plan involves increasing capacity at Ching Field from 3,585 seats to about 10,000 seats.
The proposal includes $4.2 million for capital improvements and $1.8 million for operating costs for the 2021 season. The university is evaluating funding sources for the project.
The Aloha Stadium Authority is pursuing replacement of the 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium in Halawa with a new 35,000-seat stadium planned by late 2023 in partnership with a private developer.
The authority announced in December that an indefinite moratorium on new events was in place with a few exceptions, which did not include university football games. Upkeep costs in the absence of significant revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic led to the moratorium, the authority said.
Other proposed improvements at Ching Field include $2 million to upgrade electrical, telecommunications, press box and other facilities and $1.1 million to relocate scoreboards and game clocks from Aloha Stadium.
The proposal also includes $712,000 to add concession space, $200,000 for benches and $150,000 to relocate a pole vault and high-jump area.
If the plan receives required approvals, the first kickoff could be the season home opener against Portland State University Sept. 4.
Filling enlarged stands with football fans should not create bigger impacts on the community than previously experienced, the university said.
School officials intend to discuss the plans with neighborhood boards and community members.
“There is a lot of work and collaboration to be done, including with the City and 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,” Athletic Director David Matlin said in a statement last month.