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Sure, old folks, there’s an familiarity with the University of Hawaii soccer team who play home games in a grandstand while they wait for a new stadium to be built in Halawa.
It was the early 1970s and Honolulu Stadium was in the final days before the disco. The future was single seats, artificial turf, and grandstands that could switch between soccer and baseball configurations. But the old McCully stadium would have to last for at least a few more years. And what was wrong with that? Well nothing.
It was called the “Termite Palace”, but the eusocial insects never snack on the wooden stands, but raved about the lightbulbs in the light towers.
There were maybe 200 parking spaces, with limited additional street parking on Isenbergstrasse. Fans were creative when looking for parking spaces in the neighborhood or when arriving with TheBus, which cost 25 cents for adults and one cent for young people and also offered a free transfer ticket for the return journey. Longtime sports presenter Don Robbs paid a monthly fee to park his car at a gas station.
On the King Street side, displays wrapped around newspapers were for sale.
Next to the box office, an elderly Japanese woman was selling boiled peanuts. If you were nice to her she would add even more peanuts. Everyone was nice to her.
Early arrivals stopped across the street at Chunky’s, whose windows were filled with cards from social clubs and a menu of the most important thing: thick-cut chips.
Inside, the concession booths offered saimin, corn on the cob, and teriyaki sticks. It was said that the ancient plumbing improved the taste of saimin and corn. The lines were long for the Primo beer garden.
At Hawaii Islanders baseball games, salesman Howard Igami paced up and down the stands yelling, “Hhhotdogs… peeee-nuts!” The peanut shells would be thrown on the floor and eventually fell through the cracks and onto the hall – or onto people’s heads .
In the right panel, Columbia Inn had a large sign with a cut-out circle in it. The player whose home run ball threaded the hole received $ 1,000. It is believed that Walter “No Neck” Williams was the only player who delivered the money ball.
Some local high school players have been asked to register as bullpen catchers during the warm-up for the visiting team. One of the volunteers was Roy Gerela, who was a kicker on three Super Bowl teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another was Pal Eldredge, a color analyst for Spectrum Sports and a former Punahou coach and Major League Baseball scout.
Football games had their own challenges, especially for the media. Radio commentators had to apologize – I snuck past the newspaper reporters to get into the broadcast booth. Since everyone shared the toilets and these were far away from the cabins, a special arrangement was made. The solution was an empty Folgers coffee can.
The changing rooms were open spaces with a concrete floor. Many of the high school football teams returned to their campus to shower after the game.
The time was kept on the Diamond Head side. A clock sponsored by Bulova showed the current time in Honolulu. The scoreboard – with “General Tire” at the top and “Melim” at the bottom – had a clock that kept the game time. Both were analog clocks with second hands used for countdowns.
In addition to converting field goals, the kickers tried to hit the scoreboard clock or, even more ambitiously, to boot the football onto Isenbergstrasse.
The Honolulu Stadium had its own version of a security system. “Johnny”, who ran the stadium, released his dogs as a final check before leaving.
Stadium officials and the media had a symbiotic relationship. As General Manager of the Islanders, Lew Matlin filled the press box with beer. His successor Jack Quinn continued the tradition.
Four decades later, it’s now Lew Matlin’s son – UH Athletic Director David Matlin – trying to turn the Clarence TC Ching Athletic Complex on campus into something as comfortable as Termite Palace.