Continuing Improvements
Renovation projects at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center remain on track for completion in 2025


As contracts awarded in 2022 for the renewal, improvement and modernizing of the Neal Blaisdell Center Renovation Master Plan are put into motion, a portion of the Blaisdell Exhibiton Hall known as the Hawaii Suites has already been upgraded and put into use for shows, professional trade and emergency services testing and job fairs.

The City & County of Honolulu’s Department of Enterprise Services (DES) says they are pleased with the pace contractors are making with its projects and phases. Concert Hall construction is scheduled to wrap in 2025, with Blaisdell Arena construction expected to finish next year.


General Contractor Ralph S. Inouye Co. Ltd. (RSI) in August was awarded its third contract for an estimated $5.5 million for concert hall improvements (Project A – Back of the House Renovation / No. VI-34-21-C).

RSI has the only contract awarded in 2023 thus far, according to the Hawaii Awards & Notices Data System. There were six contracts awarded in 2022.


Built in 1964, the Neal Blaisdell Center is long overdue for a makeover. While original 2019 estimates called for a $722 million price tag, the project is now valued at $43.6 million and is focused more on campus improvements instead of increased seating in the complex’s three venues.

Long-overdue upgrades, such as new exterior doors, a new IT system to support increased camera coverage and security throughout the campus, and expanding backstage spaces were completed. The Blaisdell facilities now have plenty of life left, but there is one remaining conundrum: Infrastructure at the Blaisdell Center is not designed to accommodate a system for recycled water use. There is no word yet on how that will be addressed.

Also mentioned in renovation plans is an extension of Victoria Street from King Street to Kapiolani Boulevard, between the Blaisdell Center and McKinley High School.

That project, nor any other future proposals related to the plan, were up for bid as this issue went to press.

Renovations continue inside Blaisdell Arena, with work expected to wrap later this year.     PHOTO COURTESY CITY & COUNTY OF HONOLULU

Shawn Enos


Following the COVID-19 pandemic, economy, energy-efficiency and back-of-the-house services have taken priority on this project. Modernizing comfort systems improves the guest experience, according to the city.

“New exterior doors, commercial hardware and a new IT system to support increased camera coverage enhance the security of the campus facilities,” says Shawn Enos, maintenance and operations superintendent for the City’s Department of Enterprise Services. “Throughout the Blaisdell campus, LED fixtures are installed to improve visibility, safety and energy savings.”


Following the renovations, rooms in the Hawaii Suites now automatically adjust their HVAC systems when sensors are triggered based on room temperature and occupancy. Blaisdell staff monitors the system and controls its scheduling, while luminaries adjacent to front doors automatically dim based on the amount of available natural light entering the interior.

Similar protocols apply to Blaisdell Arena’s HVAC systems. Occupancy sensor controls are now in place in public restrooms, storage rooms, dressing rooms and other similar spaces to automatically reduce lighting levels. Exhaust fans are now connected to light and/or temperature switches, and hot-water circulation pumps have manual overrides to prevent their use when the venue is not in operation.

Another healthy improvement to the Exhibit Hall kitchen is a new fresh-air circulator to support an exhaust system for a new rangetop. The kitchen setup was reconfigured for more efficient use, with lighting upgraded and doors replaced. (Due to safety concerns, there are no automatic lighting controls in the kitchen.)

As work continues on mechanical and HVAC projects outdoors at the Blaisdell complex, above left, interior renovations to the Hawaii Suites are finished.


Interior renovations of backstage spaces for the Concert Hall include reconfiguration of a laundry area; renovation and reconfiguration of dressing rooms and restrooms; replacement and extension of mechanical systems including rooftop equipment; partial power and IT/AV systems replacement and reconfiguration; and replacement and upgrade of the existing fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems.

“DES strives to ensure our facilities are maintained and made available for public use,” says Enos.

“Current renovations are focused on addressing health and safety issues [and] necessary improvements to the grid structure.

“These will be appreciated by our tenants who will be able to make use of the upgrades to create better shows and events. Most of the awe factors are part of the shows, determined and implemented by our tenants and promoters.”

Blaisdell Center Redevelopment Master Plan 2022 Awards

(Note: Does not include subcontractors)

Ralph S. Inouye Co. Ltd.: Blaisdell Concert Hall balcony concrete reconstruction, $609,700

Ralph S. Inouye Co. Ltd.: Blaisdell Arena public restrooms and backstage facility improvements, $4.68 million

Kitsap Construction LLC: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall kitchen improvements, $610,782

Pacific Recreation Co. LLC: Blaisdell Arena seating improvements, $268.670

Pacific Recreation Co. LLC: Blaisdell Concert Hall seating improvements, $202,211

Maxum Construction of Hawaii LLC: Blaisdell Arena railing improvements, $329,808

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