The Future of Sports in Hawaiʻi

Nov 3, 2017

2009 Ironman
Credit Wikimedia Commons

  The business of sports could mean big money for Hawaii but not everyone agrees on who should be in charge of landing the hot-ticket games. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more on what it means for local businesses.

 


During the 2016 fiscal year, the state of Hawaii invested more than $5 million in 31 sports events. These range from the Sony Open, which received $650,000 to the Ironman Triathlon, which received $250,000 to the Queen Liliuokalani canoe races, which received $50,000.

 

The return on investment can be quite high. For example, it’s estimated that every dollar spent supported the Ironman Triathlon generated $98 dollars of value for Hawaii. Sporting events bring direct spending in the form of athletes, production teams and fans flying to the Islands, and marketing value as the sports are televised.

 

Currently, all those marketing dollars, and the effort to attract new events, are directed by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Not everyone in state government agrees this is the right place, not because anyone thinks the HTA is doing a poor job but out of the belief that a dedicated sports commission could do even more. One of the strongest advocates for a sports commission is Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui, who was appointed head of the Hawaii Sports Development Initiative in 2013 by then-Governor Neil Abercrombie. As the Lieutenant Governor describes it, such a commission would have some authority to invest in Hawaii’s aging stadiums in addition to focused outreach.