By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Should Hawaii County build a new event center in Hilo?
Yes, according to Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda, who is proposing $500,000 be spent on designing a new stadium.
“We need a facility to really showcase an event, showcase Hilo and that we’re ready for bigger and better things,” he said Sunday.
Ikeda’s proposal will be considered by the council’s Finance Committee on Tuesday.
It’s one of three new projects he is recommending for Hilo.
The others are a new downtown parking lot, also to be discussed by the Finance Committee, and a sidewalk for Waianuenue Avenue between Waiau Street and Pe‘epe‘ Falls Road.
The full council will discuss the proposed $600,000 sidewalk project on Wednesday.
Ikeda said he wants to get them at least considered before he leaves office in December.
“If I don’t propose it I don’t think it will ever be proposed,” he said.
“Whether it flies or not, I don’t know.”
The event center would have a capacity between 8,000 and 10,000 people, and could cost $25.5 million when finished, according to the bill’s financial impact statement.
Ikeda said it could replace the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and Hoolulu Tennis Stadium.
Both stadiums have a combined capacity of 8,500, according to the bill.
Ikeda said they are in need of repairs and don’t quite meet the needs of large events, such as the Merry Monarch Festival.
A new stadium would also provide opportunities for new events, Ikeda said, which could help hotels.
“I remember during the budget time, all of the council members expressed … favor for things that get economic development,” he said. “This is one … it’s a no-brainer.”
Where a new stadium would be built would have to be determined, Ikeda said.
Events held at the auditorium include basketball, volleyball and mixed martial arts tournaments.
The tennis stadium hosts soccer, the Merry Monarch Festival, as well as tennis.
The parking lot would cost $450,000 and be located on Ponahawai Street.
Ikeda said parking in downtown Hilo is in short supply, and that the project would help businesses.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.