A thoroughly renovated and expanded Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium was officially blessed during a ceremony Friday at the prominent Hilo facility.
Mayor Billy Kenoi recognized the contractors, county employees, and community volunteers who worked tirelessly to finish the upgrades in time to meet a rigid construction deadline.
“Without all your hard work, we wouldn’t be here at this time,” Kenoi said. “Mahalo everybody.”
He was joined by Parks Director Clayton Honma, County Council members Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Valerie Poindexter, former County Council member Donald Ikeda, Merrie Monarch Festival organizers, and representatives of the contractors and community organizations who worked on the project.
The blessing was performed by Kahu Leifi Hao of Ka Hoku Ao Malamalama church in Keaukaha.
Anchored by a new 4,200-square-foot building featuring six dressing/meeting rooms and tiled restrooms, the project has modernized a facility used for such varied public events as trade shows, school graduations, and the world famous Merrie Monarch Festival.
“Beyond Merrie Monarch, this is for the entire community to enjoy year-round,” Kenoi said.
A new color scheme, native landscaping, new fencing, and covered side entrances now greet stadium users. Inside, the public will find an expanded lobby, a larger concession area complete with new roof coverings and lighting, and a freshly painted interior.
An upgraded electrical system to support enhanced lighting and sound system capabilities, a replacement sewer line, drainage improvements, and a larger vehicle entrance are also part of the renovation project completed in approximately three months.
“Everybody had to work really fast,” Kenoi said in thanking the people who helped with the project.
Rapid progress by Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd., its 15 subcontractors, and volunteers will allow the stadium to be reopened for the March 31 start of the Merrie Monarch Festival’s 50th anniversary celebration.
County maintenance employees, electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, grounds crews, and tree-trimmers collectively spent more than 1,000 hours improving the stadium and the surrounding grounds.
In addition to performing their normal duties, the employees’ work included replacing worn bleacher seat and foot boards, plumbing fixtures, and electrical fixtures, adding landscaping, installing new signs, and fabricating guardrails to improve the safety of bleacher spectators.
Dozens of community volunteers also provided vital painting, landscaping and other facility improvements that saved taxpayer dollars. The department wishes to recognize and thank the Jehovah’s Witnesses – Hawaii Circuit 5 members, Hilo Jaycees, 1st Battalion 12th Marines, Hawaii Community Correctional Center inmates, East Hawaii District Tennis Association, Hawaii Carpenters Union, Local 745, Hilo High School tennis teams, and tennis players from Hilo-area schools for contributing their time and efforts toward the renovations.
The Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium upgrade is the anchor of a $4 million revitalization of the Hoolulu Complex, which also includes work on the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale, and multiple support buildings.