Stephen Tsai: Loss of grass field limits UH football’s operation


If I waited for an invitation, I would never be able to attend any party.

Or give an opinion.


So, pardon the interruption, but here are some thoughts

Grass practice field

As of two weeks ago, the University of Hawaii football team does not have one. As part of retrofitting and then expanding the Ching Complex’s seating capacity for home football games, the track and field program was displaced for events.

The plan was to level the two-tier grass fields where the football and soccer teams practiced, and create a venue for track and soccer events.

That meant the football team would hold all their practices at Ching.

Although the facility is functional for games, it is not conducive for a team that needs the spaciousness of the grass field to run positional drills.

When the units are practicing against the scout teams at the same time, the offense is limited to a space about 40 yards in length.

That’s not enough room for a run-and-shoot scheme featuring deep routes.

Suggestion: Halt the new complex

It is unfair, of course, that UH does not have a venue for track meets.

But fair or not, the track program has long been regarded as a road team.

The last scheduled home event — the 2020 Rainbow Relays on Friday the 13th — was canceled because of the pandemic.

Although the soccer team has to endure a 19-mile commute for home games, the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex is the state’s center of the sport.

The track and soccer programs would not be overly impacted if construction stopped on the on-campus project and the grass fields returned to practice areas for football and soccer.

More premium fees

In seeking revenue, the new administration is willing to monetize any area that is viewed as undervalued. That means turning curbside parking spaces into premier stalls; turning courtside media seats in the SimpliFi Arena in the Stan Sheriff Center into more premium seats for Hawaii’s version of high rollers.

Suggestion: 2nd-row seating

As any locally reared volleyball fan knows, the best courtside seats — near or behind the end line — already are being sold for UH matches. The problem with the seats near the net is the up referee’s platform obstructs the view. In football, mid-field seats are good; in volleyball, not so much.

What makes the UH volleyball fun is the interaction with fans. What about creating more premium seats behind the UH bench? Fans don’t just want to sit close, they want to feel they’re part of the team. There’s space because reserves don’t sit during matches, anyway.

It also would be good to bring back head coach Charlie Wade’s pregame chats with the booster club.

Next year’s opener against Oregon

Ever since Marcus Mariota gave a heart-felt acceptance speech at the 2014 Heisman Trophy ceremony, Oregon’s popularity has grown in Hawaii. The Ducks are scheduled to be UH’s week-zero opponent at Ching next Aug. 24. But UH’s net-revenue potential is limited because there are no plans to expand Ching’s 15, 300-seating capacity, and the Ducks will be owed a $500,000 appearance fee.

Suggestion: Seek another venue or opponent

There have been discussions about moving the game to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, with the stipulation UH would remain as the “home” team and a rent/maintenance discount could be reached. With the Warriors not playing UNLV in Las Vegas next year, it would seem reasonable to expect a significant number of UH fans to travel for a game against Oregon.

With Oregon joining the Big Ten in July and Oregon State staying put in the decimated Pac-12, there is pressure to keep alive the in-state rivalry.

What-if scenarios have been floated about Oregon dropping out of the UH game, and then the Warriors securing a road game against a mid-level Big Ten opponent. In that outline, the Warriors potentially could net about $2 million between what they receive and don’t have to pay.

If either scenario is a possibility, there is no doubt about UH’s choice.

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