By Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2020

HONOLULU (AP) - Aloha Stadium officials said they aren’t scheduling new events because of coronavirus restrictions and budget issues.

The Aloha Stadium Authority announced Thursday that it also has reduced day-to-day operations at the venue. The officials provided no specific timeline on how long the closure may last.

Regulations meant to ease spread of the virus have dramatically reduced revenue, officials said in a statement. The deteriorating stadium is facing a budget deficit this fiscal year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Events booked before Thursday’s announcement will be honored. Activities in the stadium’s parking lot will continue as scheduled, including a drive-thru holiday exhibit and Saturday Swap Meets.

“It is with a heavy heart that we make this difficult decision,” Ross Yamasaki, chairman of the Stadium Authority, said in a statement. “Aloha Stadium has been expending its reserves to maintain operations since COVID-19 restrictions began. Unfortunately, we have reached a stage where we can no longer afford to continue these expenditures.”

He said the authority hoped to find a long-term solution but had to make the changes to reduce expenses and bring in revenue.

The facility is home to the University of Hawaii football team, which hosted five games at the stadium this season. No fans were allowed.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner said in a state House hearing Thursday that the closure means the football team might have to find a new facility for next year.

“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,” University of Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin said in a statement.

The stadium’s closure also could prevent other events from taking place, such as high school football games, concerts and graduations.

Last year, Gov. David Ige appropriated $350 million to renovate the stadium, but the plan has yet to be finalized. Even if the plans are expedited, an updated stadium is not expected to be ready for use until at least 2023.

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