Pro Bowl a package?


POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009

If the Pro Bowl returns to Hawaii in the near future, it could bring other games with it.

Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona said Hawaii hosting a college all-star game in conjunction with the Pro Bowl is among a series of topics he talked about with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week.

“;Yes, it's among several possibilities we discussed,”; Aiona told the Star-Bulletin yesterday.

A college all-star game could be played on Saturday before the Super Bowl (the week before the Pro Bowl).

The game could augment or even replace the Senior Bowl, which has been played in Mobile, Ala., since 1951 and is supported by the NFL.

The independently-run Hula Bowl was not played this year after 61 years of existence.

The Pro Bowl will be played in Miami in 2010 the week before the Super Bowl, ending a streak of 30 straight years it was held at Aloha Stadium.

The NFL proposed a second offer to the Hawaii Tourism Authority last week to return to Hawaii in 2011, and a decision is expected “;by the end of the month,”; according to HTA interim president and chief executive officer Lloyd Unebasami.

He refused to comment further other than to say negotiations between the HTA and NFL are ongoing.

Likewise, the NFL was mum on its latest offer.

“;We're not getting into the specifics of our most recent proposal,”; NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail yesterday.

Goodell said last Thursday that he was hopeful the game would return to Hawaii, and hoped to have a deal done by this week.

Other sources have also indicated the parties are close to a deal.

“;The optimal (situation) would've been if an agreement was announced before the Pro Bowl,”; Aiona said. “;The NFL was ready to do that.”;

Gov. Linda Lingle did not meet with Goodell because Goodell's stay in Hawaii last week was compressed, Aiona said. Goodell's stay was shortened due to a funeral service for the wife of Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams. Lingle was off island at a Chamber of Commerce function at that time, so Aiona changed his schedule to meet with Goodell.

Goodell last week mentioned the condition of 35-year-old Aloha Stadium as a stumbling block in negotiations. However, that was not a major issue during last week's meeting between Aiona and Goodell.

“;We didn't have a discussion about that,”; Aiona said. “;I did assure him that the stadium is structurally sound and will be improved and maintained.”;

There was discussion of hosting a preseason NFL game, Aiona said.

“;There's no question we can get a preseason game, looking at the mechanics of it,”; Aiona said. “;(Goodell's) very, very supportive of that.”;