|HTA Draws Criticism For Rejecting Contract
To Host '11, '12 NFL Pro Bowls
The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has drawn criticism from the state and the city of Honolulu for "rejecting an NFL contract that would have brought the Pro Bowl to the state for two more years" and instead electing to reopen negotiations, which "could cost Hawaii the game," according
to Allison Schaefers of the HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN. The NFL had offered Hawaii the opportunity to host the '11 and '12 games for $4M each. That also would have included Hawaii being given "two 30-second marketing spots on national TV." Six of the 10 HTA members "voted in favor of accepting the contract," but the motion needed seven votes to pass. The contract was turned down "because it specified that the 2011 game would be held a week before the Super Bowl and left the game date open for 2012." The HTA BOD is "asking the NFL to provide proof that viewership would be equal to or greater to the last three games in Hawaii before agreeing to the change." BOD member Vernon Char, who voted against the contract, said his concern is that "with the economics of the situation and the projections for (transient accommodations tax) that I'm reluctant to commit these kinds of funds for two to three years out." Char also said that the HTA "should explore other sports initiatives." Meanwhile, HTA BOD member Stephen Yasmashiro said that he "recognizes the Pro Bowl's importance, but wants to make sure that if Hawaii hosts the game it gets good marketing returns in exchange for its dollars." But Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said, "Today's vote was the wrong one. We cannot continue to have negative messages emanating from Hawaii during these challenging economic times. Hopefully, we'll have another chance" (HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN, 2/27
). Hawaii Lt. Gov. James Aiona Jr. added, "While I recognize the merit of keeping open the option of when the game will be played, I strongly encourage the [HTA] to continue negotiations with the goal of bringing the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii" (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 2/27
MATTER OF TIMING: The '10 Pro Bowl is being held in Miami the week prior to Super Bowl XLIV, and PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS noted if that game is "deemed as financially successful as Pro Bowls held in Honolulu from" '06-09, the HTA will "likely approve the NFL contract." If the '10 game is "a bust, however, Hawaii could pull out of the deal" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/26).