“Well, it doesn’t get much better than this now, does it,” beamed ESPN West Coast sportscaster Neil Everett during his guest appearance at last year’s “Redo the Imu Kick Off contest.”
Everett spoke while taking in the view from the makeshift press box above the Lahainaluna High School Athletic Field — at that time an uneven natural grass (dirt) surface.
Well, Neil, it certainly does, and some 1,000 Luna backers will attest to that fact!
The Lahaina community from far and wide was on hand to celebrate the unveiling of the sparkling new field and state-of-the-art scoreboard on Aug. 14.
The “Fire Up Da Imu” event kicked off the 2010 season, but the benefit also presented the Lahainaluna faithful their new Matrix Field Turf surface — the same field material as the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium that will host the Super Bowl this season.
The revamped facility also features a track complete with a huge school logo in its center and “LUNAS” spelled out in the end zones.
It is unarguably the top playing surface in the State of Hawaii in terms of safety issues and performance comfort and efficiency.
The scoreboard is similar in size and scope to the War Memorial Stadium one, and there are permanent play clocks set at both ends of the field.
It is a sight to behold — a field of dreams come true for Lahainaluna faithful of years gone by, the present student body, and indeed the Luna legions of the future.
As is always the case here in Lahaina, this Phase I of the stadium project — the playing surface, track and landscaping — has been completed in a team/community effort.
But in particular, the Lahainaluna High School Foundation has been the guiding light and the steam engine for the project. Foundation Executive Director Leslie Hiraga and Board Member Richard “Noosh” Nishihara have been instrumental in their leadership to organize the “Fire Up Da Imu” event and to facilitate communication in all areas.
And LHS Foundation President Rob Shelton, Special Events Coordinator Jeff Rogers and Athletic Committee Chairman Mark Tillman for years have been the dream weavers for the hopes of a sports facility that the West Side could truly call their own.
Then add the angelic touch of benefactor Sue Cooley — to the tune of $4,000,000 — through her relationship with Roy and Betty Sakamoto, and the formula is complete for a dream come true.
Again, it is the 96761 team effort that stokes the fire to forge such an effort, but particular recognition to the above-mentioned group is surely in order.
Thank you all for a job well done. Your efforts will serve as a legacy of the kindred spirit of Lahainaluna High School for decades to come.
And the torch burns on as Phase II of Redo Da Imu — lights, bleacher seating for 3,000, greeting building, press box, restrooms, and concession stand — gains momentum.
The light standards are in place, and the company is ready to ship and install the lights in the near future. The permitting process is under way. Are you ready for Friday Night Lights in Lahaina?
Sue Cooley explained her love for Lahainaluna High School and its community to the crowd at “Fire Up Da Imu.” Flanking her are Mark Tillman (left) and Jeff Rogers of the Lahainaluna High School Foundation. Photo by Art Fillazar.