Pro Bowl organizers marketing internationally, adding more local events
"I don't want to lose it," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
At the launch of Pro Bowl week on Tuesday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, there was a renewed commitment and hope that the Pro Bowl legacy will not only live on, but continue to make Hawaii its home.
Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Mike McCartney said negotiations will resume over a possible longer-term contract after the Super Bowl.
"Hawaii's committed to having the game here, it's a natural fit, and we’re working with the NFL to make sure they all understand Hawaii is the best place for the game," he said.
"It results in more tourism and more revenue, which helps us live better here on the islands," said Mayor Caldwell.
The state paid about $4 million to host the game this year, but the payback is expected to be huge.
The Pro Bowl will host 21 youth clinics on five islands, five major events on military bases, community outings, and drop another $100,000 in grant money to local non-profits.
"There are a lot of different legacy things, but more youth events than ever before," said e2k producer Mike Olmstead.
But heavy criticism over lackluster play has clouded the pros of the Pro Bowl in recent years. So much so, the NFL and its players made sure, this year, they scored extra points off the field, too.
"We've had serious discussion with the players association on the upgrading of the quality of this game," said Ray Anderson, NFL VP of football operations.
"There's a happy medium, a balance. Nobody wants to get hurt at an all-star game, but I think we've got to find that balance. It's our responsibility as players and we owe it to the fans," said Chicago Bears and Pro Bowl player Charles Tillman.
The NFL said it will decide the fate of the Pro Bowl when it releases next season's schedule in April.
The league has talked about possibly moving the event to the same city as the Super Bowl, or dissolving the event altogether, but on Tuesday there was no talk of that, only the effort to keep it here in Hawaii.
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