Some businesses located near the Manoa campus at the University of Hawaii are hoping that fans’ return to home football games in the neighborhood will help revitalize the community.
Many local businesses in the Moiliili area have closed in recent years, from Bubbie’s to Tropics to Sushi King.
Beer Lab Hawaii owner Nicolas Wong told KHON TV station that foot traffic increases when baseball and volleyball are played on campus. He can’t wait to see what effect the football games will have.
âWe’re really excited to have UH football in our backyard here,â said Wong. “We have high hopes that having UH football, having a lot of sports here is really going to bring that college feel, the college culture, back to the college district.”
From 1926 to 1974, the football team played home games at the 24,000-seat Honolulu Stadium in Moiliili near campus. From 1975, home games moved 10 miles to Aloha Stadium in Halawa, which could accommodate 50,000 fans.
In December 2020, Aloha Stadium announced it would stop scheduling new events due to coronavirus restrictions and budget issues. The university decided to add seats to its training ground at the Clarence TC Ching Sports Complex on campus instead of playing in Halawa.
The Ching Complex can now accommodate 9,000 football fans. So far this season, state and county coronavirus restrictions have meant the Rainbow Warriors cannot have any spectators in the stands. Two weeks ago they were allowed a limited number.
On Wednesday, Honolulu is expected to lift capacity limits on outdoor entertainment venues as long as attendees are vaccinated. That means Saturday’s game against San Diego State will be the first game the team plays before a full house in their new home.
However, the benefits to neighboring businesses may be mitigated, as Honolulu still limits restaurant and bar capacity to 50% due to COVID-19.
âWe’re not going to bring and really serve and have that experience for a lot of people who come to stop and have a beer before or after the game,â Wong said.
The university is expecting a sold-out crowd. Parking is available on campus. The nearby Japanese Cultural Center also offers parking and will sell food in partnership with the Pagoda Floating Restaurant.