Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Kemper analyzing
NFL game

The company is looking into
the feasibility of having a
preseason game at Aloha Stadium

The company that manages the EA Sports Maui Invitational college basketball tournament and other major sports events is analyzing the financial feasibility of an NFL preseason game at Aloha Stadium.

KemperSports has "had conversations" with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and San Diego Chargers CEO Jim Steeg, Kemper vice president of communications Michael Myers said.

In February, Steeg said he was looking into having a game here as early as August, 2006.

"It's purely research at this point," Myers said. "It's very, very early."

It is estimated private investment of more than $4 million is needed to put on the game. The HTA, which already pays $4 million to host the Pro Bowl -- might provide a token amount.

Investors would be gambling on the game being a sellout at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium -- which might be a risky bet for a preseason game.

"Right now I haven't heard of anyone putting money up," Myers said.

Steeg said representatives of three other NFL teams told him they are interested in playing the Chargers in Hawaii in August.

Myers said one idea is to have a preseason game here each year, with the teams rotating.

A problem is that one of the teams has to give up a home game and would have to be compensated for the lost revenue.

Also, it is questionable if enough hotel rooms are available during peak tourist season for two NFL teams that haven't made cuts yet.

KemperSports manages the Booz Allen PGA Tour event that ended Sunday in Bethesda, Md., and sponsored and ran the Women's Kemper Open, which was played in Hawaii in the 1980s.

The Maui Invitational hosts some of the best college teams in the nation every year.

Steeg said a decision on whether to play a game here in 2006 could be based largely on Kemper's findings.

"The ball's in their court," Steeg said.

The former NFL vice president in charge of the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl said he remains optimistic about a 2006 game.

"That's what we're shooting for," Steeg said. "Anything's possible."

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