Let’s Build An Aloha Stadium We Can Be Proud Of - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii Manoa with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. His studies explored how stadiums can better serve their surrounding communities in ways such as integrating solar energy infrastructure. Marshall has worked as a data scientist in the energy sector, a consultant in the sports venue space, and was a Rainbow Warrior football player.

Hawaii has a rare opportunity to not only serve sports fans and concertgoers but a broad coalition of stakeholders.

Wait, keep the roof! A covered grandstand might just be the thing a new Aloha Stadium needs, but not for the reasons you are likely thinking.

As the New Aloha Stadium and Entertainment District project now shifts to drafting its request for proposals, prioritizing sustainability presents a unique opportunity to reimagine how the stadium development can ease current anxieties and reach its full potential as a meaningful community asset.

While NASED’s recently released Market Sounding Report indicated “general interest” in the project, it identified various concerns over financial feasibility and the scarcity of willing stadium operators. Taking into consideration other common shortcomings of stadium developments seen on the continent, stadium-related hesitations persist.

Moreover, ensuring Maui has adequate resources to recover is paramount. However, broadening the array of public benefits that the stadium can provide could be the much-needed catalyst for the project.
Prioritizing sustainability could help address such concerns and reenergize the NASED project with three actionable steps.

Step 1: Energy

Let the originally proposed roof atop the new Aloha Stadium generate solar energy that is linked to onsite battery storage.

Aside from roughly a few dozen event days, stadiums mostly sit idle. Onsite solar energy generation allows stadiums to not only power their own events, but also distribute energy to neighboring communities at other times.

Rethinking the stadium’s role on non-event days will let public funds be more efficiently used and allow the stadium to simultaneously meet other community needs. Moreover, taxpayers who may never visit the stadium for an event still receive something tangible in return.

Leasing roof and other exposed surface area to solar energy operators has seen success at stadiums such as Freiburg’s (Germany) Europa-Park Stadion, Kaohsiung‘s (Taiwan) National Stadium, and Brasilia’s (Brazil) National Stadium Mane Garrincha.

The solar array atop Istanbul’s (Türkiye) Nef Stadium recently broke the Guinness World Record for the greatest solar output for a sports stadium at 4.2 megawatts. This reimagination of a stadium’s role allows communities to meet more public needs within a smaller geographical footprint.

To meet the state’s 100% clean energy goal set for 2045, new rollouts of commercial scale clean energy infrastructure stress other essential land uses (e.g., agriculture, conservation, residential, etc.).
Embedding solar and battery storage infrastructure within NASED’s footprint will help Hawaii meet its clean energy goals while simultaneously easing pressure on land.

Additionally, installing solar infrastructure allows NASED to take advantage of various tax incentives at both state and federal levels.

Step 2: Investment

Attract the interest of private investment by using sustainability as the entry point where sports organizations, music groups, and private investment can connect.

Rather than seeking private investment, NASED should weave together a story in which organizations want to play a part. Sustainability can be that story and other venues have attracted desired private financing with this strategy.

The iconic music group Coldplay had announced that, compared to their 2017 tour, their 2022 world tour would reduce carbon emissions by 50%.

When hosting the group in July, Amsterdam’s (Netherlands) Johan Cruijff ArenA wove Coldplay’s emissions story with their own — a first-mover in stadium-embedded clean energy technologies (installed solar panels in 2010 and linked battery storage in 2018).

The Amsterdam stadium continues to attract investment from the private sector who wish to be affiliated with environmentally conscious music groups, the stadium’s professional soccer tenant (AFC Ajax), and the venue’s many other sustainability and smart city initiatives.

Another successful case closer to home is Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. When faced with replacing the aging KeyArena, the city’s RFP required that the newly constructed arena be LEED Gold certified.

This unique development requirement helped attract the investment necessary to privately finance and operate the venue. Additionally, Climate Pledge Arena continues to make steps towards its goal of becoming the world’s first certified zero carbon arena by the International Living Future Institute.

The Amsterdam and Seattle case studies illustrate that the private sector can be attracted if a stadium embodies more than just a gathering place or economic center. Similar to Seattle, NASED can use the RFP to define that intention.

Step 3: Showcase

Utilize the stadium as a memorable storytelling vessel to showcase the many perspectives Hawaii can teach the world.

Despite growing up on the continent with no connection to Hawaii, I remember following the undefeated University of Hawaii football season in 2007. Later as a Rainbow Warrior football player, I was humbled to learn not only the meaning of the team to the islands, but see firsthand how the team is a global ambassador of the real community you and I share.

Sports is a rather authentic way to reach people on the continent and elsewhere to show the genuine side of Hawaii that is often skipped over in travel guides and pop culture. Constructing a stadium that can meet multiple community needs can reveal that Hawaii is a place where innovation, preservation, and community-building can all coexist.

Hawaii has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a stadium that will not only serve sports fans and concertgoers, but a much broader coalition of community stakeholders. Many past and ongoing discussions concentrate on how the resources of Hawaii can serve a stadium.

Prioritizing sustainability through these three steps can help shift discussions toward how a stadium can serve Hawaii — a stadium that Hawaii can be proud of.

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About the Author

Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii Manoa with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. His studies explored how stadiums can better serve their surrounding communities in ways such as integrating solar energy infrastructure. Marshall has worked as a data scientist in the energy sector, a consultant in the sports venue space, and was a Rainbow Warrior football player.

Latest Comments (0)

As others have stated, the issue isn't that the idea needs some small tweaks; it's that it is DOA. The problem with the stadium or entertainment district is that there just aren't a lot of events to fill it. The most consistent use would obviously be UH football but that would be one black hole of funds subsidizing another. I think we need to admit that D1 football at UH exists on borrowed time. So what then, the pro bowl? We paid for that. Concerts? We used to get MAYBE one big one a year from an artist 15 years or more past their prime. A-list artists aren't schlepping their whole tour to Hawaii for 25k ticket sales. So if we're not getting large concerts or using it for football, why do we need a stadium?

Kashtrey · 2 weeks ago

Planning for a stadium is not what Hawaii, Oahu and Honolulu needs right now. And dressing it up with profit making side jobs does not hide the fact that the primary use if the stadium will be built would not justify the costs to build it, to grift from politicians to the construction executives, and the costs needed to adequately maintain it. Remember Aloha Stadium? The maintenance, the business, and the management supposedly over this "asset" disappeared. The market in Hawaii for sport games and concerts of the like have many already existing venues to use and with adequate capacity.Political grift and being entertained by sports is not what Hawaii needs when young families or those who will make up the next generation can't afford to live in Hawaii.The area will be better served as a mixed use high to medium density district devoted solely to affordable housing and the services to support it and developing the node of that failure of a rail project into something. This means no podium developments, new schools, a range of housing types within the same developments as well as mixed uses, commercial/small scale industrial zoning. Naysayers need to grow up and see the world.

NoLongerInHawaii · 2 weeks ago

At best a stadium is way, way down on our list of priorities... but you did float an interesting idea, albeit over the wrong structure. Put a solar-equipped roof over Da Rail ! By your reckoning, it'll defray the cost, attract private investment (like toll roads, carbon off-sets, or other projects that taxpayers can't afford, and mostly don't use), earn the State much needed sustainability PR, etc.

Kamanulai · 2 weeks ago

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