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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hawaii tourism hits 'trifecta'

 •  Pro Bowl moves up week

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawai'i Tourism Authority is touting the switch of the Pro Bowl to a pre-Super Bowl event as a winning "trifecta" for the state that will hike ratings and visibility.

The NFL all-star game will be played Jan. 30, 2011 at Aloha Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl is played in Dallas. The 30 previous Pro Bowls played in Hawai'i were all post-Super Bowl events but the new format follows the 2010 pre-Super Bowl structure that debuted in South Florida last month.

"We think there are some positives for the state," said Michael Story, HTA sports manager.

The state is scheduled to pay the NFL $4 million plus an additional $145,000 for stadium operations in 2011. There is a 5 percent escalation in the stadium operations fee for 2012, the final event under the existing contract.

Story said the HTA "did not have input" on which format the Pro Bowl would take in 2011.

The Miami game drew 8.1 million households, a 40-percent rise in viewership from the 2009 game in Honolulu that was played after the Super Bowl, and lured the largest audience since 2000.

Story said, "I believe that we are going to see higher (ratings) on Fox."

ESPN, a cable network with approximately 99 million households, carried the last two Pro Bowls. But Fox, an over-the-air network, reaches about 110.5 million households or approximately 96 percent of U.S. TV households.

"Combined with Fox carrying the 2011 NFL championship games and the Super Bowl, that gives us more (promotional) options," Story said. "I think it is a trifecta the way it all comes together."

He said he could not say for certain whether players selected for the Pro Bowl but participating in the Super Bowl would make a token appearance for the Pro Bowl as they did in South Florida. "We have yet to have those discussions," Story said. "But, logistically, it would be a little more difficult than it was (in South Florida)."

Visitors who came specifically to attend the 2009 Pro Bowl spent $28.6 million in Hawai'i, compared with $28.07 million in 2008, according to a study, the HTA has said.

The game generated $2.9 million in state excise, hotel and car-rental taxes, compared with $2.5 million in 2008, according to the study.