The Pro Bowl Is Good For Hawaii
June 22, 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share
In 1992, while I was serving as director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Governor Waihee asked me to return a call to the National Football League regarding the Pro Bowl. So I made the call and spoke to then vice president and now commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the future of the game, which by then had called Hawaii home for more than a decade.
Aloha Stadium honcho Mackey Yanagisawa had led the charge to bring the game to Hawaii in 1980. By 1992, thanks to the enthusiastic support it received from its new home base in Hawaii, the Pro Bowl was rejuvenated after years of flagging fan interest.
But other cities had seen what we’d done and were vying to financially support the game, and the NFL was obligated to consider those bids. What Hawaii had to do was develop a competitive package to keep the Pro Bowl. Recognizing that tens of thousands of football fans had traveled to Hawaii for the game, I pitched a proposal to Governor Waihee to transform the Pro Bowl into a tourism marketing promotion for Hawaii, and he agreed. We worked with the Hawaii Visitors Bureau and the Legislature on a $1 million package to keep the game, thereby preserving what has now become a partnership in its 32nd year.
Then, as now, we need the Pro Bowl, and here’s why: The state’s investment of $4 million, which comes from hotel room tax revenue, not local tax coffers, generates more than $28 million in visitor spending, according to an analysis by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That spending generates $3.07 million in state taxes from football fans who come for the game.
Our visitor industry is “choke” with guests during the game period, with hotels, airlines, tourist attractions, restaurants and retail shops, and related enterprises doing booming business.
The last game reached 13.4 million television viewers, many of them no doubt shivering in wintry North America. With the network showing sun, surf and beautiful weather in the weeks leading up to game day, and then throughout Pro Bowl Week and the live broadcast, Hawaii’s exposure is unparalleled.
The NFL is a major benefactor of Hawaii, donating $100,000 a year to nonprofits through NFL Charities. It also built an NFL Youth Education and Training Center in Nanakuli, the only one outside an NFL team city.
Hawaii has produced scores of top-notch athletes who’ve played in the NFL, among them retired stand-outs Rockne Freitas, Jim Nicholson, Jesse Sapolu, June Jones, James and Herman Clark, Arnold Morgado, Blane Gaison, Rich Miano, Charlie and Kale Ane, and Ma’a Tanuvasa, to name a few. They’ve returned to the Islands and continued to contribute to the community.
Just as importantly, local folks love sports as part of our history and legacy. Fans go to the Pro Bowl events to rub shoulders with the players and enjoy all the hoopla associated with the game. It’s definitely a welcome part of our lifestyle.
Whether it’s the Pro Bowl, the Honolulu Marathon, Maui Classic, college athletics, the Sony Open or any other event, sports tourism bolsters our economy.
MUFI’S VISITOR HEROES
Position: Safety and Security Supervisor
Location:Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Whether it’s putting a Band-Aid on a little girl, helping a lost boy reunite with frantic parents or responding to a guest’s life-threatening illness with characteristic cool, it’s all in a day’s work for Kenneth Bryant, safety and security supervisor at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
Kenneth’s responsibilities are security-related, but guests rave about the service and care he provides. He’s admired by co-workers as well, his team spirit earning him the respect of colleagues. He always accepts additional assignments in a pinch, and can be counted on to put aside his own needs for the good of the hotel and staff.
He’s active in charitable work, including the Aloha United Way and Charity Walk. Kenneth brings his family to help with the Waikiki Beach cleanup. Those are just some of the reasons Kenneth was named Security Officer of the Year at the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s annual Na Poe Paahana awards.
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