Pro Bowl to Be Played Week Before Super Bowl Again in 2011

by

March 2, 2010

HONOLULU — The Pro Bowl will be
played before the Super Bowl when it returns to Honolulu next year.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority and the
NFL announced Tuesday that the game will be at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 30,
the Sunday before the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

The Pro Bowl had historically been
played in Honolulu the week after the Super Bowl, but was changed when
the all-star game moved to Miami this year.

Frank Supovitz, the NFL's senior vice
president of events, said playing the Pro Bowl before the big game
generated more excitement and interest and was a good kick off to Super
Bowl week.

Ratings were up for the AFC-NFC
matchup that was televised on ESPN. It was watched by an average of 12.3
million viewers, the most since 2000. That's up 40 percent from the
2009 Pro Bowl on NBC, which drew 8.8 million viewers when the event was
held after the Super Bowl.

This year's game was in a later time
slot, when more people watch TV, and competed against the Grammys on
CBS, which attracted 25.8 million viewers, the most since 2004.

However, one drawback of playing the
Pro Bowl first is not having any Super Bowl players.

About 40 percent of those originally
selected didn't play in Miami. That included seven Indianapolis Colts
and seven New Orleans Saints because they were preparing for the title
game.

Besides ratings, the Miami experiment
also produced more ticket sales because of the larger venue and media
coverage. But several players have said they preferred playing in the
islands.

And cash-strapped Hawaii, which
heavily depends on tourism as its economic engine, is eager to say
"aloha" again.

Mike McCartney, president and CEO of
the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said the Pro Bowl has been a part of
Hawaii for more than 30 years and the state welcomes the game back.

"We know how much the Pro Bowl means
to our residents, the players and to the thousands of fans from the
mainland who enjoy visiting our state for the game," he said in a
statement. "The Pro Bowl is a great investment for our state with both
economic and community benefits."

Hawaii is paying $4 million per game
to host the Pro Bowl in 2011 and '12. The site for 2013 and beyond
hasn't been determined.

The tourism agency estimated the 2009
game at Aloha Stadium accounted for $28.6 million in visitor spending,
generated $2.9 million in state taxes and attracted 18,000 visitors.

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