By Jeff King
When “NFL” and “Hawai’i” are used in the same sentence, it is usually in reference to the Pro Bowl game…a “trophy dance” that allows fans to see a superstar gathering of their favorite pro football players. The game has been a staple in Hawai’i for more than 30 years. Now, for the second time in four years, the game will not be played here.
Hawaii lost its pitch to host the 2015 Pro Bowl to Arizona, site of next’s year’s Super Bowl, but the annual all-star game will return in 2016, the National Football League announced Wednesday.
The NFL said that the 2015 Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 25 at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and the following year’s Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 31, 2016, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, with an option to play the game here in 2017 as well.
“While we would have liked to have had the Pro Bowl in Hawaii in 2015, the return of the Pro Bowl in 2016 provides the state with an opportunity to showcase our islands unique culture and beauty,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement.
Stats provided by the Hawaii Tourism Authority said that this year’s Pro Bowl drew more than 47,000 people and reached 11. 4 million viewers across the mostly-chilly mainland. The entire event is a “moving postcard” promoting Hawai’i. The game has been long on scenery but short on action as key players on opposing Super Bowl teams are as protected as can be to avoid injury before the “real” championship game.
The last time the Pro Bowl was played outside of Hawaii was in 2010, when Miami hosted the game.