Pro Bowl’s move to Saturday fine with HTA
The change may mean the end of Ohana Day, but the all-star game will remain in Hawaii
Mainland television viewership for the Pro Bowl -- already low -- probably won't get any better with the game being played on Saturday instead of Sunday next year.
But the head of the Hawaii Tourism Authority said he doesn't see that as a big problem.
"I think there could be some impact on the TV ratings, we're going to have to check that out," HTA chairman Rex Johnson said. "But while it's great to have national TV coverage during a time when the weather is ugly (on the mainland), the Pro Bowl is a great event that does a good job of paying for itself."
Also, the game being on over-the-air (CBS) instead of cable (ESPN) might make up for some lost viewership.
Johnson also said he doesn't anticipate a significant drop in tourism revenue because of one fewer day before the game for hotel occupancy.
Aloha Stadium has hosted the game the past 27 years, and the NFL is under contract with the state of Hawaii through the 2009 Pro Bowl. In 2004 the parties agreed to a new deal in which the state pays $4 million per year to host the game.
The Pro Bowl generates around $30 million in visitor spending and $3 million in state tax revenue, according to figures from the state. The NFL also donates money to Hawaii nonprofit organizations and is building a youth center in Leeward Oahu.
The move to six days after Super Bowl XLI in South Florida, instead of the usual seven, is linked to the wishes of CBS, sources said. CBS will broadcast both games next year as part of a rotation with FOX and NBC.
"While ABC and ESPN both did an excellent job covering and broadcasting the Pro Bowl over the years, we're looking forward to working with CBS, which also will broadcast Super Bowl XLI the week earlier," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Star-Bulletin yesterday.
TV ratings appear to be the reason CBS, which has the rights for the 2007 Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, pushed for the NFL to move next year's all-star game to Saturday, Feb. 10.
The game's TV ratings have dropped in recent years. This year's Pro Bowl got a 3.7 rating (4.14 million households).
Interference with "60 Minutes" and "Cold Case" is strong motivation for CBS wanting the game on Saturday instead of Sunday. The long-running news magazine show has drawn a 15 rating share this season, with 9.2 million households tuning in weekly, and "Cold Case" is also one of the network's most popular shows.
The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. Hawaii-time kickoff, which is 6 p.m. on the East Coast. A 9 p.m. finish would affect the regular programs.
"The city and state are aware of the change to Saturday for next year's game," McCarthy said.
Locally because of the change, the NFL's Ohana Day could be gone despite a successful debut earlier this year, and the swap meet is swapping days with the Pro Bowl. Also, early plans for a Pro Bowl parade will be shelved.
"The swap meet is normally on Sunday anyway," stadium spokesman Patrick Leonard said. "So we'll flip-flop. But Sunday normally is a bigger day."
But the Saturday before the Pro Bowl is a good sales day for swap meet vendors, because they get many souvenir-hungry customers from among visitors attending the AFC and NFC All-Star practices.
The NFL held its inaugural Ohana Day on Saturday, the day before last month's Pro Bowl. The free event is designed to give fans who don't have tickets to the sold-out game -- especially young ones -- an up-close look at the players, as well as halftime entertainers and other performers. It drew around 8,000 people, Leonard said.
"I don't know if we can do it during a week day," Leonard said. "A lot of the attendees were school-age people."
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he thinks the game will continue to sell out the 50,000-seat stadium, regardless of what day it is played.
"It is better news than hearing them say they are moving the Pro Bowl from Honolulu to Orlando. I think the main thing is it is here. We will just have to make adjustments," Hannemann said at a news conference yesterday. "The only thing I see it perhaps shortens by one day the Pro Bowl week we have all become accustomed to. I was looking at possibly a Pro Bowl parade in Waikiki and that would have fallen on a Saturday."
The NFC beat the AFC 23-17 in last month's game, with Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks winning player of the game honors.
Richard Borreca of the Star-Bulletin contributed to this report.