LAHAINA - The high school football season is a little more than three months away and "The Imu" - Lahainaluna High School's on-campus football stadium - is in its final stage of completion.
The construction of 3,000 seats is currently under way, as are bathrooms, concessions, an entry building/ticket booth structure and a press box.
All is set to be done in time for the Lunas' Aug. 9 preseason opener against Keaau. At least three Maui Interscholastic League games are slated to be played at the facility, and perhaps a fourth, although the final MIL schedule will not be released until June.
Lahainaluna High School’s football stadium — “The Imu” — is scheduled to be completed by the Lunas’ Aug. 9 preseason opener.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The $8.5 million on-campus stadium will be the largest of its kind in Maui County.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The completed project will leave The Imu as the largest on-campus high school stadium in Maui County, second only to War Memorial Stadium overall.
The final pieces have left the Lahainaluna High School Foundation about $200,000 short on funding.
"We have a slight deficit," said Jeff Rogers, executive director and coordinator for the Lahainaluna High School Foundation. "There were some things that have come up that we'd like to complete because if we don't things just aren't going to be where we need them. . . . If we can raise $200,000 between now and the end of June that would help us out considerably."
The artificial turf field was the first phase of the $8.5 stadium and lights went up last year. The capital improvement project has come in at about half of its original budget estimate of $16 million to $20 million.
Sue Cooley, a part-time West Maui resident, has donated $6.5 million to the project and a $1.7 million State of Hawaii Grant-in-Aid was recently released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie after being approved in 2010.
The current shortfall has come about because of numerous factors since the original plans were put in place in 2007, including Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
"Prices changed, we had a change in the building code, we had to go through several redesigns, the ADA requirements that we didn't foresee," Rogers said. "So numerous things have come up that have increased, which now finds us in a place where we need to raise a few more dollars."
The concrete part of the bleachers will be in place with the final addition of the aluminum seats in July, Rogers said. The bathrooms will be the final piece before a certificate of occupancy can be granted.
Mark Tillman, the president of the LHS Foundation, and Rogers have had eight children between them who attended the school. The final one, Tillman's daughter, will graduate this month.
"What will this mean to the school? I think it is going to be absolutely indescribable," Tillman said. "Because a project of this magnitude doesn't usually get accomplished after the fact by the Department of Education. Something like this will sit on the books forever and ever.
"One of the things that prompted us to even want to pursue this is we were encouraged by our local legislators that if we do a public-private type of project like this it is easier to get money for that because this is the type of partnering that they like to see."
Tillman added, "We are looking at completion on August 1st, being totally done."
The project has received help from alumni along the way, including Kainoa Casco, the Chief Responsibility Officer for SustyPacific, a business and sustainability company that concentrates on keeping things green.
That is a challenge for a structure going up on a campus, which is 183 years old. Casco is guiding the project from a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) aspect.
"They specify using that or a similar framework when designing green buildings if it's a state facility or receives state funding," said Casco, a two-time state wrestling champion and MIL All-Star in football for the Lunas before graduating in 2002. "We are using LEED as the basis for informed design of the buildings of the stadium."
Water, energy, materials, waste and indoor air quality are all aspects of the green design.
"What we have been spending more time on lately is the waste and recycling aspect of it," Casco said. "We are looking at composting and responsible purchasing for concessions. . . . I think Lahainaluna is in the perfect position to be a leader for public-school sustainability."
The stadium will also reserve preferred parking for carpools and energy-efficient vehicles.
Alex Pinto, a 2007 Lahainaluna graduate, is an intern helping on the project with Casco.
"It's an amazing experience for me and really gratifying, knowing I can give back to Lahainaluna," Casco said. "We have a long history of athletics and pride in the school. So, I'm glad I can contribute and give back and use my expertise to help move them forward in whatever way I can."
Donations can be made at lahainalunahighschoolfoundation.org or mailed to LHSF, P.O. Box 11617, Lahaina, 96761. For more information, contact Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-2839.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com