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Tourism board needs to keep 'going forward'


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POSTED: Saturday, March 07, 2009

There's a new target in the never-ending war on cliches.

We need to send the useless phrase “;going forward”; back to wherever it came from, never to be spoken, written or heard again.

Unfortunately, going forward, I think we're stuck with “;going forward.”;

I heard it about five times during interviews yesterday after the HTA meeting where they voted in Mike McCartney as the new boss, and then to accept the NFL's proposal for Hawaii to host the Pro Bowl again, in 2011 and 2012.

Amazingly, even more “;going forward”;s than “;at the end of the day”;s.

Which leads us to this question: At the end of the day, is this group ready to start going forward?

Let's face it, the HTA was dragged into its yes vote on the Pro Bowl by the mayor. If not for Mufi Hannemann's intervention, would this have turned out the way it did? Probably not, judging by Stephen Yamashiro's comments; he basically said he voted yes this time because Hannemann told him to, and he “;respects his opinion and thought process.”;

Board chairman Kelvin Bloom even publicly thanked Hannemann for helping secure the votes. (He also thanked the governor and the LG, but he has to, they're on the HTA letterhead, and the HTA is funded by the state.)

Yamashiro says he still has concerns, one being a potentially leaky contract that might let the NFL split for a year, like what was considered a couple of years ago and caught some by surprise.

Not a problem, according to the chair.

“;If there is a game in 2011, and if there is a game in 2012, it has to be played in Hawaii,”; Bloom said.

Now, that brings up a good point: If there is a game.

Before we all get too excited about the return of the Pro Bowl, we mustn't forget it's possible it won't even exist, and soon. It costs a lot to stage, and that's a big reason NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is folding it into the Super Bowl festivities next year. If it were truly profitable or relevant, he wouldn't mess with it.

There's a lot of rhetoric about 30 more years of the Pro Bowl, building off its three-decade-old relationship with Hawaii. That sounds great, but this whole thing could be more hospice than midlife crisis.

If the economy improves fast enough to save the game long term, the HTA needs to initiate talk about assistance in a new stadium and forgetting about this rotation experiment.

The NFL actually has already helped renovate a football facility here, at Roosevelt High School (that effort, and the youth center in Nanakuli, are often forgotten by critics of the $4 million a year shelled out to the NFL).

But I'm talking more along the lines of a replacement for Aloha Stadium, which is ancient by pro football facility standards. What better way to prove Honolulu is indeed the NFL's 33rd franchise city than significant aid in building a new stadium?

Now, the HTA also needs to get moving with its other big-ticket sports tourism item, golf.

Bloom said it's now “;at the top of our agenda.”;

McCartney's varied background, engaging personality and passion for sports should help.

But as sponsors and tournaments drop out of the Aloha Tour as fast as the Dow Jones plummets, it could already be too late.