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Work begins on state-of-the-art stadium at Lahainaluna High School

By Staff | Mar 4, 2010

From left, Mike Erekson of Hellas Construction, Lahainaluna High School Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, Lahainaluna High School Foundation Board Member Mark Tillman, LHS Principal Mike Nakano, former LHS football coach Lanny Tihada and foundation Board President Rob Shelton break ground on the stadium project.

LAHAINA — The Lahainaluna High School Foundation has begun the first phase of the Lahainaluna High School stadium project.

“Our dedicated foundation team is extremely grateful for the generous support of the community and our donors, which is allowing us the opportunity to move forward on the stadium project,” said foundation President Rob Shelton.

“Everyone who has given time or money to the ‘Re-Do The Imu’ project can take pride and ownership in knowing that Lahainaluna’s stadium is becoming a reality.”

Following the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony that took place last week Friday, Hellas Construction Company started the process of transforming the existing Athletic Field into what may become the finest multipurpose athletic surface in the State of Hawaii.

Improvements will include a Matrix synthetic turf system for football and soccer, a four-lane impermeable polyurethane track with sprint lanes, and pole vault and long jump pits. In addition, the existing scoreboard will be replaced and 25-second snap clocks will be installed.

The multipurpose scoreboard will feature top and bottom banners, as well as electronic team names and state-of-the-art LED digital displays. It will be flanked by two new flagpoles, and the fencing around the field will be replaced.

The foundation will also begin the first phase of the “Path of Champions” for those Luna faithful who have donated thus far through the brick paver program.

The initial phase of this project will take three months to complete, and then it will be turned over to Lahainaluna High School as a gift from the community.

Mark Tillman, chairman of the project, commented that “the administration and staff of Lahainaluna has been very supportive of our efforts, and everyone realizes that with the state budget shortfalls, there is a need to establish more public/private partnerships. We are working to ensure that the completed stadium will be a gathering place for the community and a source of pride in West Maui.”

He added that “we are looking to the leadership of Roz Baker and Angus McKelvey to bring a heightened awareness of this project to the State House and Senate, so we can help Lahainaluna High School move this project to completion.”

The foundation traces the roots for this project back to January 2002, when Shelton provided a series of power point presentations to interested parents and teachers, students and community organizations. The theme was “Exploring Improvements to Athletic Facilities at Lahainaluna,” and the presentations not only focused on the need for improved facilities, but provided data on Lahainaluna’s sports injuries, which should be reduced with improved track and field surfaces.

During a strategic planning meeting in September 2005, the foundation prioritized a wide range of initiatives. Out of this meeting, the idea of a multipurpose stadium was born with an emphasis on the need for a track. The sentiment of the board was that it did not seem fair that Luna student-athletes had to train in Wailuku to compete in track and field. Local businessman Tillman was asked to head a committee that would explore the possibilities of building a stadium for Lahainaluna.

A stadium committee was formed and a conceptual plan was developed under the direction of Lahainaluna graduate Dennis Harmon of Harmon Architects.

Following approval of the plan by the committee and school, the stadium concept was announced to the community. Donations began to come in, and at David Malo Day in 2007, Roy Sakamoto of the LHS Class of 1960 announced the first million dollar donation from an anonymous donor.

That donor was Sue Cooley, a part-time Maui resident, and she has since committed a total of $3 million toward the project.

Michael Nakano, principal at Lahainaluna High School, said, “We are very grateful for the significant contributions of Mrs. Cooley. Her generous donations will be showcased when this first phase of work is completed and serves as an example of her love for the community and willingness to make a positive difference. Our school is very proud of this project, and we hope that others like her will step up and help us complete the next phase of the stadium.”

Future phases to the project include stadium lighting, seating for 3,000 spectators, press box, concessions, parking, and an arrival building. The total project is estimated to cost $10 million.

Jeff Rogers, development coordinator, has worked closely with vendors and reached out to the community in an effort to raise money and find partners willing to help reduce costs.

“The efforts for this first phase have reached deep into our community, and we really appreciate the support. In particular, I would like to thank The Westin Maui Resort and Spa and Hawaiian Dredging. People and organizations keep stepping up to help, and we will recognize them accordingly for helping us deliver a quality product to our community.”

Scott Soldwisch, LHS athletic director, shared a sentiment felt by many in the community: “I’m just really proud to be a Luna.”

The foundation and school plan to dedicate the first phase of the stadium project on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. The Lunas will play their first football game of the season against Kalaheo, and ESPN Anchor Neil Everett is scheduled to provide the play-by-play. Three hours prior to kickoff, foundation Board Member Noosh Nishihara and his committee will host their third preseason event on Boarders’ Field.

This year promises to be the biggest event ever, and a class challenge to raise money for the next phase of the stadium is anticipated to bring many loyal alumni back home.

For more information on the event, call the foundation office at 661-5332, or look for periodic updates on their website (www.LahainalunaHighSchoolFoundation.com), Twitter (luna1831) and Facebook pages. For monthly e-news updates, contact Rogers at lhsfemail@hyahoo.com.