Stadium opens for inspection after canceled soccer game

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HONOLULU (AP) — Aloha Stadium officials have opened their doors to the media to show the condition of the Honolulu playing field that became the center of a dispute when the U.S. women's soccer team abruptly canceled a game citing poor turf conditions.

The exhibition game was part of a 10-city tour following the team's victory in the Women's World Cup this past summer and was scheduled to be played last Sunday. But the U.S. Soccer Federation canceled the game Saturday night, saying the stadium's field was unsafe and unplayable. Stadium officials countered that the turf is only four years old, still under warranty and hasn't had any issues.

Joshua Wisch, spokesman for the Hawaii Attorney General, said he opened the stadium Friday after several media requests. The only changes that were made on the field since the canceled game included putting up goal posts, taking down signs and re-striping the turf, he said.

Seams were visible in parts of the field.

The U.S. team had collectively issued a statement Sunday saying there were sharp rocks ingrained all over the field and that the turf was low-grade and aging.

Tourism officials in Hawaii are concerned about the impact the canceled game may have on Hawaii's ability to attract major sporting events in the future.

"It's not good, from a sports perspective. ... We took several steps back with this one," said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. "The NFL for years has expressed dissatisfaction with the stadium ... but we always headed it off in the past."

The canceled game is now the subject of legal action. Lawyers in Hawaii filed a class-action lawsuit to recover the money fans spent on airfare, hotels and other expenses. The 16,000 fans who bought tickets to the game will be refunded.

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