Hawaii HTA awards sports marketing contract to New York firm By Shane Nelson / August 19, 2016 Share 1 -- The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) awarded a one-year, $200,000 sports marketing contract to the Ascendent Sports Group earlier this month. The new deal, which empowers the New York City-based firm to provide sports marketing services on behalf of the state of Hawaii, includes an option for the HTA to extend the contract up to as many as four years. "Ascendent Sports Group offered the ideal balance of global sports contacts and an understanding of Hawaii's uniqueness as a destination," Leslie Dance, the HTA's vice president of marketing and product development, said in a statement. "We believe Ascendent is going to open a lot of doors for HTA and create new opportunities to showcase Hawaii to the world." Ascendent was co-founded by Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, and Matt Higgins, the team's vice chairman. The firm was one of 12 to submit bids, including nine organizations from the U.S. mainland and three from Hawaii. Ascendent's responsibilities will include sourcing sports-related opportunities, help with application and selection processes for events and competitions, assistance with contract negotiations while also working to prioritize opportunities appealing to travelers from Hawaii's major visitor markets. Hawaii suffered a pair of sporting event setbacks in the past year: the destination was unable to convince the NFL to hold the 2017 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, and the U.S. women's national soccer team canceled an exhibition match at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium due to safety concerns about the field's condition.