Businesses are bracing for a big weekend in and around Neal S. Blaisdell Center, especially on Saturday.
The Hawaii Business Expo takes over the Exhibition Hall all day. At night, comedian Anjelah Johnson has two shows at the Concert Hall. And the biggest draw is Grammy Award-winning artist Bruno Mars with a sold-out show in the 6,500-seat Arena.
“Anytime the Blaisdell has a lot of events going, its great for all the businesses around the area, because it just brings a tremendous amount of foot traffic and it’s a win win for everybody,” said Patrick Comer, executive chef at W Bistro.
Surrounding restaurants say they see an increase in diners up to 200 percent when the Blaisdell is bustling with events.
“You just make sure you have your staff properly staffed and with the best people on the most busy nights,” Comer said.
“We usually hire a valet, especially if the arena is packed or sold out,” said Sylvia Thompson of Green & Vines.
This Saturday, the Arena and Exhibition Hall together are expected to bring in more than 12,000 people and the concert hall seats more than 2,000 per show.
So where are all these people going to park? The Blaisdell has a total of 1,467 self parking stalls on property and close to two dozen pre-purchased VIP valet parking stalls that are already sold out.
“The parking lot will be full, but we will have additional parking as this lot fills,” said John Fuhrman, events and services manager. “We will have parking at McKinley (High School) available all three nights… We should be able to handle everyone that’s coming that night.”
Fuhrman says parking at the overflow lot at McKinley High School will likely cost drivers around $7.
The city is also encouraging the public to arrive early, carpool, take a cab or get dropped off.
Despite the headaches, these big shows provide a big boost to the state’s economy.
“For us, it brings business into the community and it certainly brings business to the people of Hawaii, because people are flying in from elsewhere,” Fuhrman said.
The parking crunch could extend into Monday as well, as Mars performs three sold-out concerts on Friday, Saturday and Monday at 8 p.m.