Legislature approves funding for new Roosevelt gym

In 2019, Roosevelt was optimistic about plans for a new gym. On Wednesday — two years later — final funding was approved for a new facility. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

There was a time not long ago when Roosevelt’s gym still had “half moon” backboards.

Those days are long gone, but modern amenities in the old building are coming. Sen. Brian Taniguchi announced on Wednesday that $18 million in funding has been approved for a new gym at the school.

That allows the plan to include underground parking.

“The initial funding was available two years ago, $19 million, but you still have to do the planning and design. We found out that we were a little bit short with what they wanted to do. We need parking, which is underground,” Roosevelt Athletic Director John Chung said. “Sen. Taniguchi was always ready to spearhead, to secure the additional funding. He was one of the lead guys with Rep. Sylvia Luke and other senators have helped lead the way. Sen. Taniguchi has really done a lot for Roosevelt, as well as our other legislators in our district.”

There is no set date yet to begin the teardown of the current gym, which seats roughly 400 for a school with an enrollment of around 1,400.

“The gym is going to be moved closer to the auditorium. The entrance will be from the back side. Most schools you drive in and drive out (on the other side). Our school is not designed that way. It’s in and out (at the same entrance), so it will be a two-fold project,” Chung said.

His father, Stanley Chung, coached for two decades before retiring in the late 1980s. John Chung took over and did the same before becoming the schools athletic director.

“Well, this new gym idea has been around awhile, in fact, from my dad’s time. When Rodney (Iwasaki) was here (as football coach and athletic director), back in 2000 we did a master plan and identified the gym again, but that fell through,” Chung recalled.

The history of the gym is a bit murky. Chung knows that the walls were in existence before there was a ceiling.

“If I’m not mistaken, the roof was put on in 1963. They had dirt in there. They had P.E. classes in there,” he said.

The gym is bigger than some of the oldest facilities at neighbor island campuses, but Chung believes it is the smallest among Oahu’s high schools.

“A good sized gym, that’s in the plans so at least we can practice sideways. With the movement of the girls (basketball) season (from spring to winter), we couldn’t practice sideways. If the bleachers are pushed in, you still don’t have a full court going across. We really had to figure out our practice schedule. So we go between 3:30 and 9 o’clock with some overlap. You have an hour of the whole gym by yourself,” he said.

With underground parking, there will be somewhere from 30 to 40 additional stalls compared to a structure with regular parking, Chung added.

“There’s going to be an elevator. Everything is designed to meet current codes,” he said.

The gym could also be an option for school assemblies.

“We have a beautiful auditorium, but we have to split them up. It can hold only 700 or so people and we have 1,400 students. It’ll make the school environment better,” Chung added. “This school made it work, and at least we had a gym. Nobody grumbled. We make do, but when you have an opportunity, you go for it.”

The new gym will also be a facility for wrestling, judo and weight training.

“I like our gym. It’s cozy, a good atmosphere to play in,” Chung said. “But it doesn’t fit the needs of the school.”

Longtime boys basketball coach Steve Hathaway is excited for A new facility.

“It’ll be good. I can’t wait to see it,” he said. “I’ve been there 15 years. I liked our home court advantage when it’s packed.”

Hathaway has one wish: air conditioning.

“It’s hot in our gym. Some nights it feels like 100 degrees,” he said. “We can’t go sideways, so I‘m glad it’ll be bigger. I hope they have better locker rooms. Right now, we don’t really have a visitor locker room. Our home locker room is small.”

When the time comes, volleyball, wrestling, judo and basketball coaches will have an alternate plan.

“It sounds like we would have no gym for a season. Practice outside, maybe, but hey, I’m looking forward to it,” Hathaway said. “It would be awesome to be coaching the first boys (basketball) team in there.”

The press release content is below.


Honolulu, Hawai’i – Senator Brian Taniguchi (District 11 – Mānoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakolea) announced today that $18 million in funding for gymnasium improvements at Roosevelt High School was included in HB200, the state budget for the fiscal biennium beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2023.

“Roosevelt’s gym is believed to be the oldest gym in the Honolulu district, and it lacks operable showers for student athletes and has been deemed non-compliant with current gymnasium standards,” said Senator Taniguchi. “I want to thank my legislative colleagues for helping me to secure the necessary funding for this critical project. It has been a long time coming.”

The funding will allow for the completion of a new gymnasium with additional funding to accommodate parking below and around the gym. These monies will also provide bus and vehicle access improvements and include necessary gym equipment.

Principal Sean Wong of Roosevelt High School also expressed his gratitude for Senator Taniguchi’s effort in a statement:

“We are truly appreciative of Senator Taniguchi, our legislators, and Governor Ige for their support and providing funds to build a new gymnasium on our campus. We are excited to have a new facility, which will greatly improve our school environment by improving traffic flow onto our campus, creating additional parking for guests, and an indoor space to hold our entire student body for school-wide assemblies/activities. Most of all, our new gymnasium will enhance student learning, provide an awesome and updated place for our student-athletes, and be another hub to perpetuate our school spirit and pride.”


  1. Hmmm? April 23, 2021 1:03 am

    Thought the state didn’t have money?
    Roosevelt needs a new gym, but we were talking furloughs and loss of jobs a few months ago?
    Now $18 million is available for a new gym.

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