Aloha To The Stadium’s Hayashi

Larry Price
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Wednesday - October 12, 2005
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It’s tough to throw a party without knowing how many people are going to show up.

You don’t know how many tables to set up and you don’t know how much food to order. To make it more exciting, there are no printed tickets to this party and there is no assigned seating. No one knows how many lei to present to dignitaries and no one knows if any dignitaries will show up. This party has no banquet committee and no script or budget. Sounds a little scary, eh?

On Oct. 3 there was such a party in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and 860 friends showed up to wish Mr. Eddie Hayashi a happy retirement. It was an amazing event put together by word of mouth and no publicity. There was not one public service announcement and no letter-writing or phone bank effort.

Most attendees were shocked to see so many people there. Mr. and Mrs. Hayashi had leis of aloha stacked from their shoulders to the top of their heads - no one was more overwhelmed than Eddie and his family. Former governors George Ariyoshi and Ben Cayetano were present to say farewell, as were a multitude of great athletes and coaches. Former legendary high school coaches from Waianae High School, Larry Ginoza and Clyde Mitsui, came all the way from Waianae to say thanks.

Conspicuous by their absence were the media. There was not one representative to record or report the occasion. It was not unexpected, since Mr. Hayashi has never received a pat on the back since he assumed the job.

What happened was significant because it all started when Gov. Linda Lingle dropped in on an Aloha Stadium Authority meeting and told several reporters that she was shocked at the haphazard way the meeting was conducted, and the lack of information that was dispensed. Those comments made all the papers.

It is no secret that the Aloha Stadium Authority and stadium management were going to change drastically with the new governor appointing new authority members. It’s a compliment to the governor that she attended an authority meeting. I served eight years on the authority and the only significant figure to appear was University of Hawaii president Ken Mortimer. He didn’t know what was going on, but wanted to say hello.

So why did so many people show up? The simple answer is that if just a few of the people Hayashi helped while stadium manager showed up to pay their respects, they would have needed a much bigger room. The Aloha Stadium has only 40 full-time employees, but requires about 600-800 volunteers to power the stadium with a sold-out crowd - and they all take their orders from Eddie Hayashi and his staff. He helped many high school teams raise funds cleaning up the stadium, and his idea of holding graduation ceremonies at Aloha Stadium was a smash hit. Even UH athletic director Herman Frasier showed up with a “mahalo” UH football for Hayashi’s cooperation over the years. They even had an official representative from the NFL flown in to offer thanks for a job well done over the years.

As they look for a new stadium manager, the search committee would be wise to understand Mr. Hayashi’s unassuming, low-key style of leadership. He was never overbearing and never stayed away from stadium events. A good example was the Michael Jackson show. Two concerts, 35,000 each, tested the stadiums staff and volunteers. He never missed a moment.

The word is the selection committee is looking for someone with a college degree in business administration with a competency in marketing and public relations. That might make sense if the stadium manager could “wheel and deal” with the facility and labor costs. The truth is they don’t, because they have their hands tied by the members of the Stadium Authority.

Those who never liked Eddie Hayashi will never fathom the attendance, tons of leis and dozen or more resolutions from government leaders. The turnout will remain a mystery to them for a long time.

So the Hayashi Era ends at the Aloha Stadium. Let the record show he went out in style surrounded by his friends and family. He had no harsh words to hurl or bitter statements. It was an amazing demonstration of how to accept the inevitable with grace. It will be interesting to see if the next stadium manager can do the same.

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