Hawaii needs a new home stadium.
Aloha Stadium, the site of the Warriors’ home games and the former site of the NFL’s Pro Bowl, said Thursday that it was ceasing fan-attended operations indefinitely. That leaves Hawaii without a place to play football until its new football stadium is built.
“We are beyond disappointed of the news at today’s announcement from the Aloha Stadium Authority that there will be no further events in the current stadium with fans,” Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. “Aloha Stadium has such a storied history and carries so many memories for our football program and generations of Hawaii families. We must now take responsibility ourselves to find a suitable venue for our Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii’s football team, to play in front of our loyal fans beginning in 2021.”
The Aloha Stadium Authority said that the closure was fueled by financial issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, though there may be more than that. The stadium, built in 1975, has been plagued by maintenance issues in recent years. A 2019 story from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser noted that the stadium needed $30 million over the next two years for repairs.
According to KHON2, the stadium will be condemned and has been deemed unsafe to hold any crowds at all, though the stadium authority disputes that the closure to fans is related to any structural issues.
Part of the statement provided to KHON2 states: “The Stadium Authority has been clear the moratorium on new events within the stadium bowl are not related to structural issues. Rather, this difficult decision has been made due to economic conditions stemming from COVID-19 safety restrictions as noted in the release.”
The Hula Bowl on Jan. 31 is still set to be played at Aloha Stadium without fans. The stadium hosted the NFL Pro Bowl every year but one from 1980 to 2013 and then one last time in 2015 before the NFL moved the event to Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Money was appropriated in the summer of 2019 to build a new Aloha Stadium but the new stadium is not set to open until before the 2023 season. Hawaii’s 2020 regular season is already over and the team’s final game of the year will be at the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 24.
Hawaii needs a stadium with a 15,000 minimum capacity
Hawaii’s search for a new home stadium may be a tricky one. Teams at the top level of college football must have a stadium that seats a minimum of 15,000 people. And there aren’t that many stadiums in the state.
The only other stadium in the state that has a capacity over the FBS minimum is War Memorial Stadium on the island of Maui. The multi-use facility has a 20,000 person capacity, though the Hawaii football team would have to fly to every home game. If Hawaii played at a smaller stadium it would have to get a waiver from the NCAA. And it would also be sacrificing potential ticket revenue in a smaller stadium.
More from Yahoo Sports: