It’s homecoming weekend for the University of Hawaii and there will be some changes for tailgaters after safety concerns were raised over the last game at Aloha Stadium.
Ambulances were called in to the parking lot after some tailgaters wound up passing out. Some were carried by friends, while others needed medical attention.
Much of it was happening by a promotional tent set up by a UH club called Manoa Maniacs. Some even admitted that they were underage.
Diehard fans told us they had never seen it that bad before. They said what they saw at the stadium parking lot nearly two weeks ago was disturbing and alarming.
We brought the concerns to UH and stadium officials who discussed the problem. On Thursday, we learned what changes will be made.
We’re told that there will be more security at the parking lot and that promotional tent where a lot of the students tailgate will instead be set up inside the stadium.
UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl tells us from here on, the tent will be located at the North Plaza, and the Circle East tailgating area where the tent usually sets up will be closed.
“Which is also good because they’ll get closer to the action, make sure the students get to the game,” said Meisenzahl, “but they won’t be in that parking lot area. That’s where some young people were congregating.”
Meisenzahl adds that the Manoa Maniacs were not to blame. Alcohol is not allowed in the tent and the group does not condone drinking.
But UH wanted to address the problem before it gets any worse.
It also launched a promotional campaign through emails and social media, warning everyone on campus about the dangers of binge drinking and underage drinking, which is also illegal.
“Especially as the team continues and hopefully continues to win, we might be drawing bigger crowds and whatever we need to do,” Meisenzahl said.
Stadium and UH officials say it’s all about trying to find the balance for students and other fans, to make sure they’re having a good time and doing it safely. So they’ll keep monitoring the games to keep that happening.
Aloha Stadium also sent us a statement saying, “In response to public concern over the health and safety of all attendees, security presence in parking lots will increase.” It will also remind guests to tailgate responsibly.
“It is wonderful that they’re changing and they changed it so quick, so I’m very happy,” said Ronalda, a longtime UH football fan and a regular tailgater who wound up helping some of the those who had too much to drink.
“You think this will make a difference as far as what happens from here on?” KHON2 asked.
“Oh definitely, definitely a big difference, so I hope it turns out well I’m excited,” she said.
More changes could be made depending on how things work out from here. We’ll keep track and let you know if that happens.
Prior to the game, the public is invited to take part in the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s homecoming celebration, called Nā ʻono o Mānoa – The Flavors of Mānoa, on Friday, Oct. 14, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex.
It will feature live music, popular Eat the Street food trucks and Honolulu Night Market vendors provided by Street Grindz, giveaways, and appearances by UH athletics teams, coaches, UH Pep Band and cheerleaders.