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Blaisdell Center Arena reopening after $9 million in upgrades

HONOLULU -- The Neal S. Blaisdell Center held a blessing ceremony this morning for the newly renovated Arena, featuring approximately $9 million in health and safety upgrades, including new lighting, new bathrooms and refurbished loge seats.

"We all have wonderful memories at the Blaisdell Center Arena and, thanks to these renovations, we will be making memories for years to come," said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. "Our investment in this facility is an investment in our community. I am so proud of our City leaders, all the contractors, and all the workers who made this project happen. They have done a great job and we could not be more excited to have the Arena open ahead of the holidays!"

The first show at the Arena will be the Kamehameha Schools Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 2nd (a private event). It will be followed by Iam Tongi's concert on Saturday, December 9th. Tongi, winner of American Idol, Season 21, is the first person from Hawaiʻi and the first Pacific Islander to win the televised competition. He stopped by the Blaisdell this week to record a congratulatory message and perform a few songs in celebration. Meanwhile, Ballet Hawaiʻi's "The Nutcracker" will debut its Arena performances on December 16 and 17, and Tom Segura will be the 2023 finale with his show on December 30.

"As the longest running annual tenant of the Arena since 1964, we are so very excited to welcome the return of Kamehameha Schools with their Christmas Concert as the first event to re-open our Arena doors on December 2," said Department of Enterprise Services Director Dita Holifield. "We were also very fortunate and thrilled to have one of Hawaiʻi's largest concert promoters, Rick Bartalini of Rick Bartalini Presents, LLC, join us today, who will bring Iam Tongi to the Arena stage as our first public event."

The Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Enterprise Services oversaw the renovations to the nearly 60-year-old venue which started in May of 2023. Upgrades at the Arena include:

  • New energy efficient lighting
  • Replacement of perimeter doors
  • 567 refurbished loge seats
  • Four renovated dressing rooms
  • New telecommunications infrastructure
  • Two new backstage restroom facilities
  • Four reconstructed public restroom facilities
  • Four new family restrooms
  • Safety improvements

The project is part of $43.6 million in design and construction funds appropriated for renovations to the entire Blaisdell Center campus. The work has been sequenced so at least one facility will remain open for operation, allowing for ongoing revenue generation for the City. The planned construction projects will not require any full campus closures.

The Blaisdell Center, formerly called the Hawaiʻi International Center (HIC), was originally constructed in 1964 and dedicated as a war memorial to honor Hawai`i's fallen heroes. The Exhibition Hall and the facility's administrative building, including the Galleria and Box Office, were renovated in 1992, though original equipment from 1964 is still being utilized today in many other areas across the Blaisdell campus.

Professional consultants and contractors for the various Blaisdell upgrade projects include Pacific Architects, Inc., AMEL Technologies, ECS Inc., Johnson Controls, Inc., Ralph S. Inouye Co., Ltd., T. Iida Contracting Ltd., Paul's Electrical Contracting, LLC, Ted's Wiring Service, Ltd., Maxum Construction of Hawaii, LLC, and Wasa Electrical Services, Inc.

This morning's blessing ceremony was made extra special by Kamehameha Schools Kahu Manu Naeʻole, Alika N. R. Young, Performing Arts Department Head and the Kamehameha Schools Concert Glee Club, comprised of 42 high school seniors, under the direction of Justin Kaupu, with their beautiful performance of Thanks Be to God and the Hoʻonani I Ka Makua Mau Doxology.

For a statement from Iam Tongi and a clip of him singing at the Blaisdell Arena, please click here.

To book an event, the public is encouraged to contact the Blaisdell Center at

The following link provides the most current updates to our facility closure dates:

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