Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, February 14, 2002


Maui moving toward
keeping Hula Bowl

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU>>The Maui County Council appears poised to approve a new contract to keep the Hula Bowl on the Valley Isle.

Council budget committee members earlier this week voted 8-0 in support of a five-year contract beginning 2003 for the annual football game featuring all-star college seniors.

The nine-member council is expected to vote on the contract on first reading on March 1. A second reading is required before final passage.

The new contract calls for the county to receive a portion of the ticket revenues, starting with $1 per ticket in 2003 and increasing to $5 a ticket in 2007.

Hula Bowl officials said they do not plan to raise $25 ticket prices in the end zones but are considering small incremental increases for $30 sideline seats.

The proposal eliminates a former arrangement that voluntarily required hotels to pay an amount to the county for guests who came to Maui to see the game.

Support has been strong in the visitor industry to keep the event on Maui, although county expenses exceeded revenues by about $245,000 in the last four years.

The internationally televised event last year generated an estimated $28 million in the Hawaii economy, according the Maui Visitors Bureau.

Bureau executive director Marsha Wienert said in addition, the televised game exposed viewers to Maui in the United States and Japan.

"You can't put a price on it," she said.

The Hula Bowl also donated $125,000 to community organizations in Hawaii for the 2002 game, including at least $15,000 to Maui nonprofit groups.

Hula Bowl chief executive officer Lenny Klompus said he thought the contract was "fair" and would enable the county to maintain facilities for the game. Klompus said the event has gone through its share of problems, with the title sponsor in 2001 failing to pay a six-figure bill.

The Hula Bowl went without a title sponsor this year.

He said 987 tickets in the end zones remained unsold in this year's game in a stadium containing more than 20,000 paid seats.

Klompus said the list of individual and corporate sponsors for the event has been growing and he and his wife Marsha who recently purchased a home on the Valley Isle plan to keep the Hula Bowl on Maui.

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