– AAU Honolulu Grand Prix volleyball tournament first event to take court, Feb. 18-20 –

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Convention Center (HCC) will debut its new sports courts this President’s Day weekend with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Honolulu Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament being held in the Kamehameha Exhibit Hall, Feb. 18-20.

An estimated 1,000 women athletes, ages 12 to 18, from the mainland U.S. and throughout Hawaii are taking part in the tournament this weekend.

HCC invested $1.1 million to purchase the fully portable sports courts, which can be configured to simultaneously stage up to 28 regulation volleyball or badminton matches, 18 high school basketball games, or 11 futsal (indoor soccer) courts. HCC also has acquired a regulation NBA- and NCAA-approved basketball court with a solid wood floor.

The move by HCC to diversify its usage of Hawaii’s premier meetings facility supports the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s sports marketing efforts to attract more global amateur and professional events to the State.

The sports courts also allow the Meet Hawaii sales team to strategically utilize HCC to capitalize on the lucrative sports events market with group events, while positioning HCC as the State’s newest venue to attract teams and fans from domestic and international markets.

“These new sports courts are an exciting addition to the portfolio of the Hawaii Convention Center and allow us to develop a new market segment that holds a lot of potential for group business in the years to come,” said Teri Orton, HCC general manager. “We are thrilled to be welcoming the AAU Honolulu Grand Prix volleyball tournament as our first client and to show how the Center’s location and facilities are ideal for hosting these type of events. We also appreciate the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s support in working with our team over the past year to bring this to fruition.”

HCC and HTA began exploring the feasibility of investing in the sports courts last year when the HCC team saw increasing interest to bring athletic events to Hawaii. However, the high cost of shipping courts to the Aloha State was the number one reason event organizers could not commit to bringing sports events to the islands.

“We’ve already generated two sports bookings which will generate more than $1.3 million in tax revenue for the State, so the courts will have paid for themselves in the first year,” Orton said. “This is just the beginning to what I believe is a new way for Hawaii to enhance its ability to attract sporting events that have strong followings around the world.”

Leslie Dance, HTA vice president of marketing and product development, said, “The potential to tap into this sports market and bring offshore business to the State was clearly there, so the decision was made to purchase the courts and make it easy for potential clients to say ‘yes’ to Hawaii. This initiative is in alignment with HTA’s tourism strategic plan, which includes bringing an innovative approach to how we generate new business opportunities for our lodging partners through the meetings market. It also enables us to have Hawaii’s athletes compete with other teams from around the world right here in our own backyard.”

In addition to volleyball, badminton, basketball and futsal, the courts can also accommodate tournaments and events for wrestling, gymnastics, martial arts, dance, cheerleading, group fitness activities, and table tennis. Event planners can add elevated seating as an option for spectators. There are also 690 parking stalls available at HCC.

HCC’s mid-Pacific location is perfect for sports events with participants traveling from east and west. There are more than 30,000 overnight hotel rooms in Waikiki, with more than 28,000 of them located within a 1.5-mile radius. HCC is conveniently located within walking distance of Waikiki and Ala Moana, offering an abundance of entertainment, shopping and dining choices.

HCC’s open-air design brings the outside in and its talented culinary staff will ensure guests are well fed with menus highlighting a true taste of Hawaii from farm to table.