Jeff Jeffers left behind freezing temperatures in South Bend, Indiana earlier this week to cover the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii – definitely not the roughest assignment in his three decades of covering Notre Dame football.
“There’s probably a foot of ice and snow in South Bend,” Jeffers told Khon2. “This is a very, very welcome holiday season for the Irish.”
The Christmas Eve match-up featuring the University of Hawaii Warriors and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame also has Hawaii tourism officials jumping for joy after what has been a very bad year for the state’s number one industry.
With the nationally televised game set to kickoff at 8 p.m. on the East Coast on ESPN Keith Vieira, senior vice president of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts-Hawaii, said the state is getting the kind of prime time exposure you can’t put a price tag on.
“If you had to go out and buy this much time, well it would be in the millions,” said Vieira. “Being the only bowl game on Christmas Eve at eight o’clock back east what a perfect time to be on TV with sunny skies.”
Mother Nature is cooperating nicely, with the forecast at Aloha Stadium calling for cool tradewinds, partly sunny skies and a temperature of 81 degrees. That’s a sharp contrast to much of the country.
Liz Reising, who’s on Oahu filming with Jeffers for UND.com, said just getting to the airplane in South Bend was an ordeal. “If we would’ve walked on the runway we would’ve fallen, it was that icy and cold.”
Vieira said the Hawaii Tourism Authority has provided stock footage of Hawaii’s most scenic locations to bowl game officials that will likely run during bumpers on the ESPN broadcast. The hotel executive is hopeful freezing mainlanders will see Hawaii as a go to destination that’s affordable.
“It’s cheaper to come to Hawaii now then it was well before this whole crisis started back in April when Aloha Airlines had their shutdown,” said Vieira. “There isn’t a better value for the dollar paid and it’s a very good time to get that message out.”
Jeffers, who has a couple more days to enjoy his working vacation, could not agree more.
“It’s a lot less expensive than going a lot of other places. Yeah the prices might be a little higher in certain areas but if you plan you can have a great time here and not break your bank.”