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Every town has its all-in-one venue. Denver has the Pepsi Center while L.A. has the STAPLES Center. In Honolulu, it’s the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, which hosts everything from farmers markets to expos to concerts. But what distinguishes the Blaisdell – as it’s more commonly called – from other worldly venues? Well, Elvis Presley, of course! The king of rock n’ roll held his “Aloha from Hawaii” show inside of the concert hall just about four decades ago – for not only his Hawaii fans but for more than 1.5 billion people across Asia and Europe, as the world’s first satellite concert.
The Blaisdell arena can host an audience of up to 8,800 people.
Elvis still holds a special place in the islands, within the hearts of his fans and right outside of the Blaisdell. A bronze statue of the music icon basks in the Hawaiian sun as it welcomes everyone who visits the center. When Elvis performed there in 1973, the Blaisdell was actually called the Honolulu International Center. Its current name came from former Honolulu Mayor Neal S. Blaisdell, who oversaw a major construction boom in the city and county.
The circular performance facility has hosted a number of sporting events and concerts. Whenever traveling performances arrive to our island shores, they are most likely held at the Blaisdell. American Idol Live!, Sesame Street, Disney on Ice and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are a few of the well-known ones to take place in the Blaisdell.
The multi-purpose complex is approximately two miles from Waikiki.
Because I grew up in Hawaii, I’ve been to the Blaisdell for many different occasions – including having my high school’s graduation here. Needless-to-say, it has a special meaning to me. But one of my favorite times to come here is during the annual Made in Hawaii Festival and Food & New Product Show. Both these events are one of the best places to get locally-made items, as well as taste island flavors. Vendors at the Made in Hawaii Festival will offer samples of their food products – from local jams to cookies and coffees. Just be sure to go on an empty stomach!
NEAL S. BLAISDELL CENTER • 777 Ward Ave., Honolulu, HI 96814 • www.blaisdellcenter.com • Info Hotline 808-768-5252 • Box Office Hours Mon-Sat 9am-5pm
Photo Credit: Neal S. Blaisdell Center