HTA finally votes to bring Pro Bowl back to Hawaii


The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) board voted 9 to 1 today to bring the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium. The tentative agreement reached with the National Football League (NFL) will bring the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii in 2011 and 2012.

The Pro Bowl has traditionally been held after the Super Bowl, including during the nearly 30 years it was held at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium. HTA board chairman Kelvin Bloom said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the Governor Lingle administration lobbied board members to reverse a February 26 vote that rejected a deal with the NFL. Former Big Island Mayor Stephen Yamashiro, who had previously voted against the NFL contract, said he had changed his mind after talking at length with Mayor Hannemann about the Pro Bowl.

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona told the board Friday, “San Francisco has the 49ers, Denver has the Broncos, and Hawaii has the Pro Bowl,” adding that the game is “a proven commodity,” effective marketing, and a boost to the Hawaii community.

“We know how much the Pro Bowl means to the people of Hawaii and to the thousands of fans from the mainland who enjoy visiting our state for the game,” said Lloyd Unebasami, interim president and CEO of HTA. “In addition to the economic benefits, HTA’s continued partnership with the NFL provides ongoing contributions to our community including charitable donations, Pro Bowl youth training clinics statewide, and school visitations.”

Details of the contract are being finalized. The two-year deal will cost HTA US$4 million per game and an additional US$145,000 for the stadium game day operations in 2011. In 2012, there is a five percent escalation for the stadium operations (US$152,250).

Visitors to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl this year spent US$28.6 million, up nearly 2 percent from $28.07 million in 2008. Tax revenue from visitors who came to Hawaii for the game increased to US$2.9 million in 2009, up from US$2.5 million in 2008, according to figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the State of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “By placing the Pro Bowl in Hawaii on a rotational basis, we will be able to make the game and its surrounding events even more accessible to our fans on the mainland while maintaining our ties to the state. We will also work with the state to continue our charitable grants and player visit programs during the year the Pro Bowl is off island.”

“The HTA board voted today to accept the terms of the Pro Bowl proposal,” said HTA board chairman Kelvin Bloom. “The Pro Bowl continues to be a great benefit for our state as evidenced by the recent visitor data that shows an increase in visitor spending, tax collection, and average length of stay for the 2009 Pro Bowl.”

Board member Kyoko Kimura was the lone vote against the NFL contract. Kimura, who represents Maui, said that the Pro Bowl has little benefit to Hawaii’s neighbor islands.