Building Economy with Sports

State of Hawaii News Release

Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. announced last week that he is proposing legislation to establish a Hawai‘i Sports Commission that would enhance the state’s potential to become a worldwide leader in sports and sporting events.

The 13-member commission would be given the full-time responsibility to attract, develop and promote sports and sporting events throughout the state and generate revenues for Hawai‘i’s economy.

“This measure will allow our State to proactively secure both large and small sporting events throughout Hawai‘i that will help to strengthen our economy and make Hawai‘i a leader among the world’s sports destinations,” Aiona said. “Hawai‘i is the home of the Pro Bowl. Over time, the game has become a tradition and our residents should not grow accustomed to seeing it played away from Aloha Stadium.”

According to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Pro Bowl accounted for $28.6 million in visitor spending, while PGA tournaments account for $26.3 million in visitor spending. Additionally, in 2007, the size of Hawai‘i’s direct golf economy was approximately $1.4 billion according to a report commissioned by Golf 20/20 for the Aloha Section of the PGA.

“A sports commission is exactly what Hawai‘i needs,” said Mark Rolfing, NBC Sports’ award-winning golf commentator. “It is clear that the time has come for an umbrella organization to seek and promote sporting events in our state.”

“This proposal is greatly needed for our community,” said Dave Shoji, University of Hawai‘i Women’s Volleyball head coach. “By aggressively pursuing sporting events in Hawai‘i, we can increase our competitiveness on the national and international stage.”

Municipalities, states and countries around the globe have found sports and sporting events to be an economic boom for their economy and have established sports commissions and authorities to attract sports competitions as part of their economic development efforts.

The competition for national and international sporting events has significantly increased over the past 10 years. There are various soccer, softball, baseball, swimming, volleyball and other tournaments that seek venues to host regional and championship events.

Currently, there is no state agency in Hawai‘i whose sole purpose is the development and promotion of sports.

“By establishing the Hawai‘i Sports Commission, the State would be in a strong position to diversify its visitor attractions and help support Hawai‘i’s active lifestyles,” Aiona said.

If enacted, the measure (HB2590 / SB2743) would require no general funds and would appropriate $100,000 out of the Hawai‘i Sports Commission Special Fund for fiscal year 2010-2011. The commission would also be allowed to receive private contributions.

The Lt. Governor was joined at the news conference by Brendan Cravalho, section director of Section 7 AYSO Hawai‘i; Jack Sullivan, member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; Jim Haugh, president of Hawai‘i Golf Alliance and former executive director and CEO of the Aloha Section PGA; Herman Stern, president of the Quarterback Club; Chad Tsuneyoshi, president of MMA Hawai‘i; Ronald “The Machine Gun” Jhun, MMA fighter; Mary Ciacci, Hawai‘i District 6 administrator of Little League Baseball; Ken Suenaga, founder of the Ken Suenaga Swimming Invitational; and Marsha Wienert, State Tourism Liaison; Marcia Klompus, board member, Hawai‘i Stadium Authority.


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