What’s Happening at Aloha Stadium? Swap Meet & Demo Updates

Aloha Stadium
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > What’s Happening at Aloha Stadium? Swap Meet & Demo Updates

Aloha Stadium has been in the news a lot lately. Its planned redevelopment looks like a glistening new era for the old Oahu entertainment center. But not everyone is on board for its renovation and expansion, and many wonder what’s happening to the stadium in the meantime. 

Let’s get the latest updates on Aloha Stadium and learn how this structure has become such an important part of Oahu’s culture. 

What is Aloha Stadium?

Aloha Stadium is Hawaii’s largest outdoor arena. It’s located in Aiea, near Pearl Harbor and the Honolulu Airport. It opened in 1975 and has been home to a number of impressive events. Here are some of the famous happenings at the iconic venue:

  • University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football games
  • The gigantic Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace
  • The NFL Pro Bowl from 1980-2016
  • Many large-scale concerts, including Bruno Mars (2018), The Rolling Stones (1998), Michael Jackson (1997), and the Eagles (1979, 1995 & 2018)
  • An annual drive-thru Christmas light spectacular

The stadium has 50,000 seats. To give you an idea of its size, the largest football stadiums in America seat about 100,000 fans – these are big-name football colleges. The largest NFL stadiums seat about 80,000 fans. 

Closing the Stadium

In late 2020, Aloha Stadium closed down. The financial impacts of Covid and long-needed repairs influenced this closure. Many believed the structure was flat-out unsafe, and most everyone agreed it wasn’t in great condition. 

Holes in your seat, wood rot, and rust – it was all part of your experience at Aloha Stadium. But it also carried with it a sense of nostalgia, and a nod to Hawaii’s simplicity. We don’t need state-of-the-art, glistening facilities. We just need a place to gather, cheer each other on, and enjoy the beautiful weather of Oahu. 

Though the venue hasn’t seen any big events since before 2020, it opened its doors one more time in early 2023, welcoming the public to a special farewell tour. It was residents’ chance to say goodbye to the structure – it will likely be demolished soon. 

Whether they saw big-name concerts (a rare treat in Hawaii), high school football games, or the beloved Rainbow Warriors, many families have fond memories at Aloha Stadium – memories worth honoring and carrying on as we look ahead to the stadium’s future. 

The Future of Aloha Stadium

Now for the big question: what does the future look like for Aloha Stadium? It’s really up in the air at this point, but here’s what we know so far:

Demolition Plans

The existing Aloha Stadium will likely be demolished in late 2025 or 2026. This is a considerable delay from the original plans for a 2023 demolition. 

The New Stadium

The New Aloha Stadium is predicted to be completed in time for the 2028 football season. It will house fewer seats – about 25,000 – 35,000 compared to the 50,000 seats in the old stadium. 

Plans include expanded concession options, various seat tiers, versatility for a range of sports, and an improved maintenance plan. 

New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED)

The new stadium is just part of a sweeping plan to develop and revamp the surrounding area. In fact, a detailed 20-year plan for the “New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District” (NASED) includes housing, hotels, offices, restaurants, shopping, and green space. 

It will be transformative to the neighborhood – whether it’s a good or bad transformation is up for debate among residents and policymakers, which is why the NASED has become so controversial in recent months. 

New Aloha Stadium Controversies 

Many people are opposed to the new Aloha Stadium, which is understandable. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and (as we mentioned) transformative in a region where many people value old-time traditions and minimal change. 

Since the stadium closed in 2020, UH football games have been moved to the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. The school renovated its practice field to accommodate 15,000 fans, and it seems to be a perfectly fine spot to enjoy the games. 

The New Aloha Stadium and surrounding district are estimated to cost taxpayers over $400 million. 

Plus, considering how the Honolulu Rail became such a money-sucking, problem-prone, ever-extended project on Oahu, it’s easy to see how people are hesitant to encourage a large-scale build like the NASED.

Lawmakers are creating bills to nix the project and instead focus efforts on the stadium at UH Manoa. A further renovation of UH Manoa’s complex would cost taxpayers around $200 million.

So, though officials are eyeing a 2028 opening for the stadium, and another 15 years of development for the entertainment district, it could all be scrapped in the months or years to come. This could mean Aloha Stadium is simply a part of Hawaii’s history, without any kind of future on Oahu. 

What About the Swap Meet? 

There’s one repeat event at Aloha Stadium that’s still going strong: the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace. 

Three times a week, over 400 vendors gather around the outside of the stadium to sell everything from souvenirs to produce to yard-sale-style goods. If you’ve never been to the swap meet, you should definitely check it out during your next Hawaii vacation. 

Fresh Fruit at Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Fresh Fruit at Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

It’s $2 to get in (kamaaina are $1, and any kid under 12 is free), and you could easily spend hours here. I like to sip on an ice-cold coconut while I pursue the unique jewelry stands. There are also food trucks, massage booths, baked goods, and crack seed stands. 

 And the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is set to go on even now that the stadium itself is closed. It’s also included in plans for the NASED, so you’ll likely get to enjoy the fun shopping event for years to come. 

What to Do Near Aloha Stadium

If you find yourself at the Swap Meet or in the Aloha Stadium area, you may wonder what else there is to do nearby. 

Well, Pearl Harbor is the top attraction, just minutes away from the stadium. You do need to get your Pearl Harbor tickets in advance, though, so you’ll want to plan that day in advance. 
Hawaii Aloha Travel can help organize a tour of Oahu, including a drive by Aloha Stadium and a tour of Pearl Harbor. We also have tours highlighting great local food and scenery, so you can live like the many residents who have enjoyed Aloha Stadium over its 45 years of entertainm