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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 15, 2010

Bill clarifies city's access to UH arena

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

The city's Neal Blaisdell Center would continue to be the main indoor entertainment venue on O'ahu under a measure that advanced out of the City Council's Zoning Committee recently.

The committee moved out Resolution 09-341, which allows for the University of Hawai'i-Mänoa to carry out its 2007 long-range development plan. The master plan calls for 18 construction or major renovation projects in the next 10 years on the campus.

Language in the legislation requires UH to give the Blaisdell Center "first right of refusal" whenever it is approached about an event of a commercial nature at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Sheriff center is prohibited from holding commercial events under a clause in the original legislation that allowed the arena to be built in 1994. A few commercial ventures, including the 1996 Miss Universe Pageant, have been held at the center, but only under a "gentleman's agreement" with city leaders, said UH Assistant Vice Chancellor Eric Crispin.

Several council members said they were concerned that the new language would create a competitive situation with Blaisdell.

But Crispin said that wasn't the university's intent. "This essentially documents the de facto arrangement we've had," he said.

Crispin said UH wants the flexibility for those unique circumstances when Blaisdell cannot accommodate a firm commercial event date, or when a commercial event fits better at Sheriff.

Among the construction projects included in the development plan are new classroom buildings, parking garages and housing for both faculty and students.