Don't let Pro Bowl slip through hands


POSTED: Sunday, March 01, 2009

THE National Football League fumbled the ball in deciding to leave Aloha Stadium and schedule next year's Pro Bowl in Miami a week before instead of after the Super Bowl. But that was no reason for the Hawaii Tourism Authority to reject a contract for returning the Pro Bowl to Honolulu in subsequent years.

The NFL has proposed a return to Honolulu in 2011, and Roger Goodell, the league's commissioner, said in December that he expected a Hawaii venue to be “;in rotation”; with mainland sites. HTA's insistence on the precise timing of the game is out of bounds.

The contract specified that the 2011 Pro Bowl would be held a week before the Super Bowl; it did not specify the date for the 2012 game.

Next year's scheduling of the Pro Bowl a week before the Super Bowl means that members of the two Super Bowl teams will not play in the all-star game. Skeptics in the tourism authority might be right in predicting that the pre-Super Bowl match-up will draw fewer television viewers, but that decision belongs to the NFL.

Six of the 10 HTA members voted Thursday to accept the NFL contract for hosting the game in 2011 and 2012, but seven votes are needed for acceptance. HTA agreed to resume negotiations with the league. Meanwhile, Dallas, host of the 2011 Super Bowl, will have its eyes on a possible doubleheader.

In rare agreement, Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona are both critical of the decision. The mayor pointed out that the Pro Bowl “;provides Hawaii thousands of visitors, worldwide television exposure and contributions to local charities and nonprofit organizations.”; Aiona said he “;strongly”; urges further negotiations resulting in the Pro Bowl's return.