$53 Million needed for repairs at Hawaii Convention Center
Hawaii Convention Center is facing up to $53 million in repairs, and state legislators may help out.
The Hawaii Convention Center rose up over the Ala Wai 20 years ago. The roughly $260 million project now hosts dozens of events every year and draws people in from all over the world but it's showing its age. Its facing up to $53 million in repairs and state legislators are asked to foot the bill.
KITV4 was denied access into the center to see some of the problems. To break it down: about $26 million is need to fix stairwells, audio problems, breaking chairs and chipped china. The remaining $27 million is needed to fix the rooftop terrace.
"Heaven forbid it crashes during a convention. We certainly don't want that," State Senator Glenn Wakai said.
Wakai said Hawaii legislators give the convention center a set amount for marketing and repairs every year.
To get the $53 million, convention center officials could either ask for a lump sum or ask the state to increase the money they receive annually. Wakai said the state could give them the funding for some of the repairs but to repair the roof would take another step.
In 2007, state legislators passed a bill to begin work on a future Museum of Hawaiian Music and Dance. Several years later, another bill was passed to allocate a million dollars a year to build that museum on top of the convention center.
Wakai said the roof repairs were supposed to happen at the same time as the construction of the museum but the project was put on hold. Since the law to build still stands, the roof still leaks.
Wakai hopes legislators prioritizes the convention center's maintenance work this year.
"I think the Convention Center is what generates the money to pay for all of these other essential government services," he said.
There is push back from others in the legislature who wish to prioritize other state projects. For example, State Representative Bob McDermott thinks funding should go towards improving schools.
Teri Orton, the Convention Center's general Manager, released a statement about the needed repairs, saying:
"The Hawai'i Convention Center is committed to moving forward with several capital improvement and maintenance projects that will allow us to continue our 20-year commitment to providing the highest-quality event facilities and services for our guests. Budget discussions are ongoing, and operations at the Center are continuing without interruption."
Wakai also mentioned how the Hawaii Convention Center wasn't seeing many locals at first. But with events like car shows and sporting events now, more Hawaii residents are drawn to the center. He hopes that drives the urgency to start repairs.