Pro Bowl: More moving talk
NFL resumes discussions about possibly shifting the game to another location
By now it's clear the NFL is not satisfied with the status quo for the Pro Bowl. Many in Hawaii have enjoyed a 27-year homestand for pro football's all-star game, but the league talked again yesterday about moving it from the islands, at least temporarily.
The event -- which the league considered shifting overseas last year -- could be moved to Florida in 2009, as part of the lead-in to Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.
"What was discussed (yesterday) was the concept of moving the Pro Bowl to the week of the Super Bowl and playing it prior to the Super Bowl as part of the buildup," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a phone interview yesterday. "It was also discussed that the location would be on a rotating basis, perhaps around a Super Bowl location."
McCarthy said Hawaii might be part of such a rotation, even though it remains unlikely a Super Bowl would ever be played here.
Every Pro Bowl since 1980 has been played at Aloha Stadium, and the NFL is under contract with the state of Hawaii through the 2009 season. In 2004 the parties agreed to a 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.
If the game were moved before the end of the contract, another year would be added to the end of the current deal.
McCarthy said moving the Pro Bowl to a foreign country -- as suggested by retired commissioner Paul Tagliabue last year -- is no longer being considered.
McCarthy emphasized that the owners were mostly brainstorming yesterday, spurred by commissioner Roger Goodell.
"No action was taken or required, it was just discussion, wide-ranging discussion," McCarthy said. "The commissioner wants to bring more focus to the Pro Bowl and our star players."
Hawaii Tourism Authority chief administrative officer Lloyd Unebasami had no comment other than the state and the NFL are currently negotiating a contract extension, which McCarthy confirmed.