In the strange year of 2020, the McKinley Tigers just had one of their most important Zoom events.
More than a dozen McKinley alumni, students, administrators and coaches provided testimonials at the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board virtual meeting on Tuesday night. McKinley is moving forward, one baby step at a time, in a quest to build a stadium on the grounds of the athletic complex.
“They just wanted to get our side, to get more information,” McKinley Principal Ron Okamura said. “To get the discussion to start. I’m glad we could start a conversation.”
In attendance at the virtual meeting were Councilmembers Ann Kobayashi and Carol Fukunaga, and State Rep. Calvin Say.
“I think they wanted to see what kind of support we have,” he said.
Written and oral testimonies were submitted in what was largely an informational session. Okamura believes the school has exercised patience. The new football/soccer field and track and field were installed a few years ago. Before then-athletic director Neal Takamori retired, he was willing to compromise rather than slog through discussions with some nearby residents who complained of potential issues like noise and parking.
“It started around 14 years ago. Coach Neal feels like he should’ve stuck to his guns,” Okamura said on Wednesday. “To get to this point, we made concessions. We built the field and track, and would fight for the other things later on.”
There was no vote, no debate, no back-and-forth at Wednesday’s virtual connection. Just loyal Tigers hoping for a better high school experience for future student-athletes. McKinley is one of three public high schools in Honolulu without an on-campus stadium for football, soccer and track and field.
One Tiger alum, Jett Caler, stayed up late to participate.
“One of our alumni, Jett, attends the University of Oklahoma. He testified. It was 1 a.m. in Norman,” Okamura said.
Parking will not be an issue, he added, thanks to the outlets on King Street and Pensacola Street. A survey revealed that the campus can accommodate 1,000 to 1,100 cars, he added.
“We hold our commencements here on campus. Within 20 minutes, it’s empty. Traffic is always flowing here. Even if we coincide with commencements at Blaisdell (Center), no problem,” Okamura said.
Noise from games and activities will be curtailed by 10 p.m., as allowed by law, Okamura said.
“It’s a given when you live by a high school. School is an integral part of the community,” he said. “There is give and take.”
Lighting has improved with modernization. The school’s softball stadium has been utilized for school, league and state competition.
“We’ve never had any complaints and we can shield the lights,” Okamura said. “It’s like shades. Farrington is another good example.”
The next step is a slow one, Okamura noted. The school is waiting for completion of the environmental impact statement.
“The facilities branch (of the state) is working on it. It began last year,” he said.