The demise of the Islanders

When the city of Honolulu built Aloha Stadium it was the owner of the facility, and kept all parking and concession revenues for itself. The team received no percentage of those revenues. The city further refused to allow advertising signage on the outfield walls, which could have been a source of revenue to the team. In addition, estimates were that it cost $75,000 per season for rent and maintenance of the stadium. It was also necessary to pay subsidies to mainland teams to help defray the cost of travel, so expenses were high. (See: The Pacific Coast League 1903-1988; Bill O'Neal; Eakin Press, Austin, Tx 1990).

In 1978 when I started going to games at Aloha Stadium, the price of a General Admission ticket was $2.50, parking was $1.50, and refreshments were fairly inexpensive (see history). In 1985, the city raised the parking fee to $3.00, which in effect meant it cost the walk-up customer more to park than it did to see the game. In addition, prices at the concession stands rose as new contracts with vendors were signed over the years, until the cost of attending a game became a significant amount of money. No longer was it inexpensive entertainment, and attendance suffered as a result. Even in 1978 the average crowd on a weeknight was between 2,000-3,000, and not much larger on weekends. In a 50,000-seat facility, fans rattled around like marbles. The stadium was located in the suburbs, 12 miles from downtown and the University area where most of the fan base had been. Add to that the peculiarities of scheduling: the economics of travel necessitated that visiting teams come to Hawai'i for a single long series (typically eight games) each year, thus diluting the novelty of seeing a new team every three days or so, and crowd interest waned.

Unlike other minor-league franchises which received a percentage of concession and parking revenue, ownership had no economic incentive to heavily promote games by offering unusual entertainment or giveaways (Bat Nights, Ball Nights, or the like). During the last few years of the franchise, the owners did try various things to draw crowds; there were several signings of players with local ties, like locally-born Fred Kuhaulua and Derek Tatsuno, but these attempts were never really successful. The players were well beyond their prime, or it was clearly obvious that the signings were acts of desperation; at any rate, it didn't work. After the move to Aloha Stadium from downtown Honolulu, the crowds just couldn't be bothered to come.

Thanks to Randy Itamoto, I have several .pdf files of feature articles about Islander players from the old Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper (it's now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, having taken over the old Advertiser in 2010). Each article also has a player roster for each time period covered.

Islanders 1961 - 1964

Islanders 1965 - 1970

Islanders 1971-1975 Part 1

Islanders 1971-1975 Part 2

Islanders 1976 - 1980

Islanders 1980 - 1984