The breakdown for Saint Louis and Bishop Gorman, Mililani and Liberty, is unlike most high school athletics in the islands.
Saint Louis and Bishop Gorman, two longtime brand names on the national football scene, have plenty to gain when they meet tonight at Aloha Stadium. As part of the Aloha Football Classic, the two nationally-ranked teams are stoked to square off on the synthetic turf of a site that Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez calls “historic.”
That cache of Aloha Stadium, former home of the Pro Bowl and myriad postseason bowl games from the Hawaii Bowl (current), Aloha Bowl and Hula Bowl (recently revived). The whole event begins with a vision, and that is what fuels Rich Miano.
If you build it…
The actual costs and expenses are a moving target, in a sense. Attendance can vary at the whim of Mother Nature.
As an organizer, Miano is focusing on the games while juggling the logistics. The high-energy former NFL, Hawaii and Kaiser standout says there are costs across the board.
“There are too many unknowns. The Poly Classic we did (two years ago) in Las Vegas with Kahuku, we didn’t make money. There are too many variables from an attendance and cost standpoint,” said Miano, who coached Kaiser to a Division II state championship in 2013.
The challenges of organizing events here and on the “ninth island” are different, but the spark is very much the same.
“If you’re a coach, you can influence 50 or 100 people and help give them life lessons, and lead them on a good path,” Miano said.
Bishop Gorman and Liberty (Nev.) are among the teams that will be showcased in next week’s Polynesian Classic in Las Vegas.
“Our Poly Classic, there’s hundreds of kids involved. We can give them opportunities to get exposure on a national level. There’s a lot of work with logistics and planning, but my calling in life is to be able to influence as many people as I can,” said Miano, who started his college career as a walk-on. “I lived a dream to play at Kaiser, UH and the NFL, so if I can help the youth of Hawaii, I’ll do it. We have people with the passion and the drive. Jesse Sapolu. Maa Tanuvasa. Kevin Kaplan.
“We do a lot of projects together here and in Vegas, but this centers on our local football players,” Miano said. “We take a lot of pride in it.”
There’s at least one factor that makes the Aloha Football Classic unique. By keeping the game off TV, attendance stands to be at maximum potential.
“I think it’s just to get the fans into the stadium,” longtime Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. “I’m thinking we should easily have 5,000 to 10,000 (spectators at Aloha Stadium).”
Having no live TV coverage for games of this magnitude is a real oddity in this age. But the emphasis is clearly on gate revenue. According to Coach Lee, Saint Louis and Bishop Gorman will each receive 25 percent of the gate. The remainder will cover basic expenses and stadium rental, which Lee says could be $8,000-$10,000.
If 4,000 paying adults attend the game, at $15 per ticket, that is $60,000 of revenue. Add in the ticket sales to students (young children normally have free admission), and it could be $70,000. So far, weather is sunny and clear.
Should the math be somewhat close, Saint Louis and Bishop Gorman stand to take home roughly $17,000 each. For a small school with a tight budget like Saint Louis, every dollar matters.
“That would be fine,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, in Central Oahu…
At John Kauinana Stadium, the Trojans have a massive alumni base. With TV coverage, games are often two-thirds or more filled. With no TV, plus a large contingent coming from Liberty — where there are plenty of Hawaii transplants — there is a possibility of a sellout.
Liberty, as the No. 2 team in Nevada, against the Star-Advertiser’s No. 2 squad, Mililani. For the same price of a movie ticket in the theaters that have recliner seating. It’s the concession stands at Mililani that are quite a bit more delectable than theaters.
Unlike Aloha Stadium, where Saint Louis and other ILH teams often pay to use the facility, the Trojans never have to pay rent. Tonight’s game could easily draw 3,000 paying adults. Factor in concession stands, and that adds up.
Mililani coach Rod York said the gate revenue will be collected by the Aloha Football Classic. There is a rental cost for the Aloha Football Classic, according to Miano, who did not want to divulge numbers.
Concession revenue stays with Mililani, which has arguably the best fried noodles of all high school sports, along with a vast menu that includes taco salads and ahi poke bowls.
There is also revenue for the host school from parking — $5 per car — though it’s nothing like what NFL franchises charge at their venues.
Three thousand (at least) fans, perhaps $45,000.
Concession stands, likely more than $5,000 total, possibly close to $10,000.
Parking, with 500 cars, is $2,500. Possibly more.
If the Mililani-Liberty game also has a set percentage allocation like Saint Louis-Bishop Gorman, that’s a five-figure net.
Friday night lights
Fans across Oahu have bemoaned the scenario, two outstanding matchups on the same night at different sites. Like Bishop Gorman, which will abstain from sightseeing activities until after the game, Liberty is staying until Sunday. The Patriots simply wanted to have one day for non-football fun.
“Yes, they wanted Friday for the game so that Saturday and Sunday they can relax and enjoy before they head back to Las Vegas,” York said.
After all the planning, the immense costs of travel, the memories for players and coaches will be lasting. If Hawaii fans want more of the same in years to come, a strong turnout at both stadiums is a must. The weather forecast by kickoff is positive: cloudy with temperatures in the 80s, and, at least in Honolulu and Mililani, no chance of rain.
“We hope all the fans come out and support the Aloha Football Classic games,” Miano said.