State finds affordable solution to get softball stadium up to code

A field of dreams for McKinley High School is getting closer to reality.

The state spent nearly $3 million on a softball stadium that couldn’t be used because of a fire hydrant that didn’t have enough water pressure.

Plans to hold the Oahu Interscholastic Association tournament at the site had to be cancelled, which meant additional costs.

School officials say the problem should be fixed when the school year begins.

The solution was to dig a trench that would have cost nearly a quarter million dollars, but since we first aired the story in May, school officials have found a cheaper way to fix the problem.

The softball stadium was built more than a year ago, but there’s been no cheering from the bleachers.

Construction on Pensacola St. could change all that as work crews install a new water main to increase the water pressure on the fire hydrant, so the stadium passes its safety inspection.

“We’ve been waiting for this and I think not only our athletes at our school but I think the softball teams around Honolulu,” said McKinley High School principal Ron Okamura.

When KHON2 first reported the problem, the Dept. of Education had planned to dig a 200-yard trench across campus to Pensacola St. at a cost of $225,000.

But Okamura says a bigger water main and water meter should increase the pressure enough without digging a trench.

In addition to cutting the cost, Okamura says another good thing about not digging the trench is that students still have full access to this practice field.

“Our JV teams can stretch a little bit more so it just allows more practice space and playing space for the students,” he said.

An even bigger payoff comes in April when the OIA tournament will finally be held here. The OIA can charge admission to the games, something they couldn’t do at previous sites.

“Any time we can make some revenue off a sport, it’s a plus for the schools because we share the revenue and it goes back to the schools,” said OIA executive director Raymond Fujino.

The school is hoping that the girls’ new locker room, which also hasn’t been used because it failed inspection, will be given the green light to open once the school year starts.

The DOE says it’s up to code but the fire department still has to inspect it.

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