Hawaii, NFL extend Pro Bowl agreement

HONOLULU -- The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) renewed an agreement with the National Football League to host the annual Pro Bowl game at Aloha Stadium through 2005.

The HTA will pay the NFL $23.7 million to host the February all-star game, which it has done since 1980.

The state has always paid the NFL to bring the game here, but the HTA is hoping to get more out of its investment than in years past.

According to a sports marketing consultant hired by the HTA, the resulting exposure to Hawaii's tourism from the game and events surrounding it is equivalent to $25 million to $35 million in advertising.

As part of the deal, footage promoting Hawaii tourism is aired throughout the game. A new twist in the deal is Hawaii's right to create a Pro Bowl museum.

According to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, 12.5 million households tuned in to the Pro Bowl last year on television. The game also was aired on the radio, and 10 million fans tuned in.

The 30,000 fans who traveled to Hawaii to see the game brought in $7.5 million in revenue to the state. The state does not calculate how many tourists come to Hawaii as a result of seeing the Pro Bowl on television nor how much revenue is brought in by those visitors.

HTA chairwoman Shari Chang said the state in the past had not taken advantage of marketing opportunities associated with the game as much as it could have.

Chang said when it came time to renegotiate the NFL contract, she was skeptical about the return on the investment.

"I wasn't against it, but I wasn't super gung-ho about it either," said Chang. "Now I am more enthusiastic because of the revenue-sharing opportunities and the overall marketing program we worked out."

Chang said the state will get a cut of travel packages for the game that will be sold by the NFL and Panda Travel of Honolulu. It also will get a percentage of the take from a week of pre-game activities in Honolulu such as the Pro Bowl Experience, a kind of football carnival, and the Battle of the Gridiron, a televised skills competition among Pro Bowl players.

Chang said the cost of hosting the Pro Bowl has gone up about 5% each year.

She said the NFL gave Hawaii a free 30-second television spot during the Super Bowl last year, just for asking. That is something state officials in the past had never bothered to do.

The state also secured the rights to use the NFL logo in promoting the game.

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