Sports: Return of the Hula Bowl

The new owners of this January event are moving it back to O'ahu.

Talk about your homecoming games—after eight years on Maui, the Hula Bowl returns to O’ahu’s Aloha Stadium in time for its 60th anniversary on Jan. 21. Four years ago, Dick Schaller bought the Hula Bowl (an all-star college football game) from Marcia Klompus and her husband, Lenny, also the former owners of the now defunct Aloha and O’ahu Bowls. It was resold to a Mainland-based group before the 2005 season, and the game was moved to O’ahu for 2006, because of lagging attendance on the Valley Isle.

Players clash at an earlier Hula Bowl on Maui. photo: George Lee/courtesy of Honolulu Star-Bulletin

"In the long run we all wanted it left in Hawai’i," says Hula Bowl director Rick Beggs, who represents Cornerstone Bancard, a credit card-processing company from Atlanta that is part of the new ownership. "For the good of the game we moved it to O’ahu. From a financial standpoint, there are more people to draw from. I’m not sure that’s anyone’s fault; it’s just what happened. And we wanted to be a part of it and bring it back to Honolulu, especially for its 60th year. We thought it was a jewel in the rough that we could help polish and bring back some of the glamour and popularity to something that I think [Islanders] have loved over the years."

The 2006 Hula Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2p.m. in Aloha Stadium.

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According to Marcia Klompus, this violated the original contract, which prohibited a move away from Maui within five years of the initial sale in 2001. Among other reasons, the Klompuses had moved the game to Wailuku’s War Memorial Stadium because of support from the county government and a desire for the game to be played on grass rather than artificial turf.

Marcia Klompus was most concerned about keeping the name, "Hula Bowl," in the event that the new ownership decided to move the game out of state, as had happened with the two other bowls before their demise. Now Klompus has agreed, in principle, to lease the name to Beggs and his partners in exchange for a yearly donation of $3,000 to $5,000 to a local sports charity organization.

"The only involvement we had was to make sure the name stayed in Hawai’i for historic and cultural reasons," says Klompus. "I didn’t [previously] know the owners of the bowl, but I now feel very comfortable that their intention is to keep the game in Hawai’i, and that makes me very happy."

The Hula Bowl reportedly needs to draw 25,000 for organizers to break even. Only about 12,000 attended the last game on Maui, while 24,725 came to the last Hula Bowl on O’ahu in 1997. Around the country, though, many all-star senior games are suffering, due to fewer premier players participating for fear of injury. ESPN2 will televise it, and University of Hawai’i offensive lineman Brandon Eaton is among the players who’ve committed to play in the game.