Last Thursday, University of Hawaii Athletics and Bank of Hawaii announced a major extension of their longtime partnership. Under the agreement, Bank of Hawaii will support the Athletic Department with a $5-million sponsorship over the next 10 years. Also, the school’s Stan Sheriff Center has been renamed “SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.”
The sponsorship will help the UH Athletic Department better meet the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money may be used to fund sports equipment, academic resources, trainers, medical staff, cleaning supplies and rapid testing, among other necessities.
“Bank of Hawaii has been a loyal and long-time partner of University of Hawai‘i Athletics, and we are extremely grateful to [BOH Chairman, President and CEO] Peter Ho and his team for this impactful gift. The gift, including an endowment under the late great Stan Sheriff, helps assure the future success of our Rainbow Warrior and Rainbow Wahine student-athletes,” said David Matlin, athletics director at University of Hawai‘i, in a prepared statement. “The Stan Sheriff Center is one of the jewels on the Mānoa campus. Stan Sheriff was a visionary and the facility is a testament to his drive, dedication and love for UH Athletics. I know he is looking down and enjoying the cherished memories that have been made over the years and we look forward to countless more at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.”
The announcement marks a new chapter in the rich history of the Stan Sheriff Center. Here are some other key moments in the history of the 10,300-seat facility:
♦ Initially named the Special Events Arena, the $32.2-million multi-purpose facility was officially dedicated on Sept. 21, 1994 on the UH-Manoa campus. Among the speakers at the event were Hawaii Gov. Hohn Waihee, UH President Kenneth Mortimer and UH Athletics Director Hugh Yoshida.
♦ Earlier in the year, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin asked readers to suggest names for the arena. Suggestions included “Aloha Arena,” “Volcano Dome,” “Pacific Paradise Arena,” “Mahalo Arena” and “Aloha Spirit Dome.”
♦ The first event held at the arena was a UH women’s volleyball match against San Jose State. In front of a festive sold-out crowd, the Rainbow Wahine prevailed in four sets. Players on that team included Sarah Chase, Brandi Brooks, Joselyn Robins, Kee Williams, Therese Crawford, Chastity Nobriga and current Rainbow Wahine head coach Robyn Ah Mow and associate coach Angelica Ljungqvist.
♦ Said Rainbow Wahine head coach Dave Shoji after that historic match: “I wasn’t sure if I would ever see a 10,000-seat arena [on campus] and ever see it filled up for women’s volleyball. It’s a dream come true for me as a coach.” (Also, Honolulu Advertiser columnist called the evening, “the most anticipated opening since Kmart.”
♦ In 1998, the arena was renamed, “Stan Sheriff Center” in honor of the late UH Athletics Director who championed for the construction of the facility. Sadly, Sheriff never got to see his vision completed. He died in January 1993, more than a year before the arena opened its doors.
♦ The SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center has hosted many non-UH events, including the NCAA Championships for both women’s and men’s volleyball; Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers preseason games; a series of 2000 U.S. Olympic Basketball team exhibitions; the 1998 Miss Universe Pageant; and the USA Gymnastics/Pacific Alliance Championships.
# # #