Governor seeks to attract more sporting events

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Tuesday announced the introduction of a “Sports Development Initiative” with the goal of bringing more activities to the state, and appointed Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui to be in charge of the effort.

“If we can get people to start thinking about Hawaii for their training – and for their events, for their venues – there is a world-wide opportunity now available to us,” Abercrombie said at a news conference in Honolulu.

“With Shan at the helm, I think we’re going to be able to take advantage of our state’s characteristics, unique characteristics. Each island has its own particular dynamics and capacities.”

Tsutsui, a former state Senate president from Maui, noted that he is aiming for growth in events throughout the state.

“We want to make sure that we expand sporting opportunities to the Neighbor Islands,” Tsutsui said, noting the significance of Monday’s announcement of Maui County’s purchase of 209 acres of former sugar cane field, now planned as the site of a park complex.

Abercrombie was asked what might emerge from Maui County’s connection to America’s Cup sailing – last month in San Francisco, the title was retained by Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, who also owns much of Lanai.

“We would be delighted to work with the America’s Cup people, and the international yachting community itself, to try to make an international venue here in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said.

Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium is scheduled to have the NFL’s Pro Bowl for 34th time in 35 years in January, and will host the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Multiple professional golf tours have at least one stop in Hawaii – the PGA Tour has had an event at Kapalua since 1999, and that tournament is followed on the schedule by a trip to Oahu.

Eight men’s college basketball teams will compete at the Lahaina Civic Center in the 30th EA Sports Maui Invitational next month.

The Ironman World Championship triathlon took place Saturday on the Big Island, and the Xterra World Championship Off-Road Tri-athlon will take competitors throughout West Maui on Oct. 27.

Maui and other islands host ma-rathons annually as well.