The current site of Aloha Stadium in Halawa is still the best place for a new stadium and an adjacent business district, according to a new site analysis by the project’s planning consultant, Crawford Architects.
The Kansas City-based firm will conduct an environmental study and master plan for a new stadium district to replace the 41-year-old facility. The study should be completed in 12 to 18 months, said Chris Kinimaka, a planning chief at the state Department of Accounting and General Services.
Crawford Architects has worked on other major football stadium projects like CenturyLink Field in Seattle and the renovation of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Stacey Jones, the senior partner and principal at Crawford Architects, said at a Thursday press conference that the company isn’t starting from square one with planning for the Oahu stadium site.
He said later that Crawford Architects will be building on a development plan that the Stadium Authority board commissioned in 2017. That plan called for a 35,000- to 40,000-seat stadium surrounded by a mixed-use business district with shops, restaurants and even condominiums.
That concept is something Jones wants to pursue.
“It could be a great place to live in,” he said. “Could people call Halawa home?”
It’s unclear when work on the new stadium could actually begin, Kinimaka said during the press conference. At this point, funding is uncertain.
Lawmakers are considering allotting $350 million in the next biennium budget to the Hawaii Community Development Authority to build a new stadium. House Bill 1497 is the last bill alive this session that could move stadium funds forward. It’s currently awaiting a hearing by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The upcoming environmental study, the earlier development study and the site analysis are expected to cost a total of $5 million. In 2017, the Legislature had approved $10 million for the studies, although only half of that will apparently be spent.
Kinimaka said the state will move forward with planning regardless of whether or not lawmakers approve the $350 million this session. That’s the estimated cost, including demolition and construction, in the development plan.
The site analysis that Crawford Architects presented Thursday is the first step in the planning process for the new stadium.
The firm also analyzed five other sites, including the University of Hawaii’s Manoa and West Oahu campuses, the Ala Wai Golf Course, Kapiolani Regional Park and a site in Kalaeloa.
It settled on Halawa because of the available land and its location near freeways and a future rail station.
Crawford Architects evaluated each site based on how much economic impact it could have, how the surrounding community would perceive the project, development costs and issues regarding infrastructure and the environment.
“Its construction would not take away any beloved parks, landmarks or other uses,” the site report says of the Halawa option.
Where exactly the new stadium would be built within the site is still up for debate, Jones said. Concept art in the report shows the new stadium could be in the same place as the current Aloha Stadium or just makai of it.
Read the stadium site analysis by Crawford Architects below:
Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell