When the University of Hawaii played its first football game at Aloha Stadium in September of 1975, their opponent was Texas A&I, a school name that no longer exists.

The cost of building the brand new stadium in Halawa – located 10 miles from the old Honolulu Stadium or “Termite Palace”— was $37 million, a price tag that seemingly no longer exists either.

Termite Palace was torn down and turned into a park.

Texas A&I eventually became known as Texas A&M. Kingsville and the Javelinas are a powerhouse team in the ranks of NCAA Division II.

Meanwhile, the University of Hawaii is a household name in the Division I ranks, but the aging Aloha Stadium – now 35 years old – often became derisively referred to as “No Aloha”.

After consideration of building a new stadium proved to be too costly – a price tag of over $500 million was suggested – the state decided that the best way to keep the University of Hawaii and other tenants such as the NFL Pro Bowl happy was to begin a long-term renovation project.

The ultimate cost for that ongoing project over the long haul is reported to be $185 million.

“After the current and planned projects are done, the stadium should last at least another 20 years,” said Hawaii state Comptroller, Russ Saito. “At the halfway point of that 20 year span, another engineering study can be done to see whether the stadium should be further renovated to extend the life for another 20 year, or be replaced by a completely new stadium.”

The most recent work is finishing up this summer, just in time for the University of Hawaii’s nationally televised football opener against the University of Southern California on Thursday, September 2. The stadium will also play host to the NFL Pro Bowl again this winter.

New renovations to Aloha Stadium, which is the state’s largest sports facility, include a fresh coat of dark green paint to the outside of the stadium, plus roof covering improvements, structural health and safety improvements, and a new video scoreboard.

The old SONY Jumbotron is gone – the new video scoreboard will be unveiled at University of Hawaii football Media Day in August.

Saito says the total cost of the completed and ongoing projects ongoing since March 2008 is roughly $51 million. He plugs the number of jobs the project is creating: “We estimate that 716 direct and indirect jobs have been or will be created by the projects.”

The last phase of the roof replacement, slated for next year, will cost about $14.5 million; work to complete the Health and Safety improvements could cost three to four million dollars; and the field upgrade and replacement of the field turf next year is estimated at $2.5 million, Saito says.

Future work, he says, will involve renovation of the stadium to replace the seating bowl and seats, add elevators, more restroom facilities, and concessions.  “Costs are preliminary and will be firmer when the budget for the next biennium is submitted the legislature,” Saito says.

Saito thinks the improvements will greatly improve the experience for football fans and may give the state confidence in its bid to secure another long-term Pro Bowl contract with the NFL.

“The stadium has held up well, considering its all steel construction and the state’s corrosive salt air and consistent trade winds,” he said.  “It has been refurbished once before to mitigate the effects of the corrosion.  The current and planned projects will make it like new again.”

Saito, who as a student at the University of Hawaii in the late 1960s watched games in the old Termite Palace, is hopeful that the new dollars spent mean a new and improved Aloha Stadium for the 21st century.

Journalist and sports commentator Bob Hogue wrote this report for Hawaii Reporter.  Bob also serves as PacWest Commissioner.

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