Pro Bowl to be played in Arizona in 2015, return to Hawaii in 2016

The NFL announced Wednesday that the 2015 Pro Bowl will be played in Arizona on Sunday, January 25.

The University of Phoenix Stadium is the site of Super Bowl XLIX that is scheduled to play a week after the Pro Bowl.

The Pro Bowl will return to the Aloha Stadium in 2016. Super Bowl XLX is scheduled to be played in San Francisco the following Sunday.

The much-anticipated decision to bring the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii came after weeks of intense negotiations between the NFL and Hawaii Tourism Authority. The agreement reached also allows the option for Hawaii to host the game again in 2017.

“What we’re doing is spending about $800,000 more, because there’s another television show that comes with it, so there’s extra value not only for the NFL but for Hawaii,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority.  “The price is still locked in for ’17. We both have the option to decide whether we want to continue with that or not.”

The Pro Bowl draft day at Ko Olina, which was broadcast live on the NFL Network, provided additional media coverage. The game itself, which featured a significantly revised format, was the most watched all-star game in the nation with 11.4 million viewers. According to HTA, those two shows resulted in more than $200 million in media value.

“The investment is definitely worth it,” McCartney said. “”We bring in about 20,000 visitors that came in to attend the game.”

HTA says that the 2014 Pro Bowl attracted 47,270 attendees, reached 11.4 million viewers, and generated $71.9 million* in direct visitor spending. The production costs of the game and events, brought in an additional $8.9 million.

McCartney says HTA will use the funds that would have supported the 2015 game to pay for the 2016 and 2017 games, as well as other initiatives in Asia.

In the end, tourism officials say it was the beauty of Hawaii and its people that sealed the deal for the Pro Bowl’s return. “It had a great impact,” McCartney said. “The players were our best ambassadors because the people of Hawaii touched their heart.”

“While we would like 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,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a statement. “Our state stands ready to create another memorable experience for the world’s best football players, their families and the fans.”

The NFL also announced that the revised “unconferenced” format will continue.

Read the official NFL statement.

Statement Attributable to Mike McCartney, President and CEO Hawai‘i Tourism Authority


We are pleased that the NFL Pro Bowl will return to Hawai‘i in 2016 and look forward to welcoming the fans, players and their families back to our Hawaiian Islands. We are grateful for our more than 30-year relationship with the NFL and look to continue our friendship for many years to come. We have also reached an agreement with the NFL that would allow the option for Hawai‘i to host the game again in 2017.

In 2014, the Pro Bowl attracted 47,270 attendees and reached 11.4 million viewers across the U.S., making it the most watched all-star game in the nation, resulting in more than $200 million in media value. It also contributed an estimated $71.9 million* in direct visitor spending in the state, not inclusive of the production costs of the game and events surrounding Pro Bowl week, which is estimated at an additional $8.9 million.

The new format for the Pro Bowl also includes a draft pick that is televised live from Hawai‘i, creating additional buzz leading up to the game and more coverage of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawai‘i’s support in hosting the event in 2016 will be $5 million, and there will be greater exposure of our state during the traditionally cold winter months.

The HTA plans to reprioritize the funds that would have supported the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl to pay for the 2016 and 2017 games and to assist with other initiatives that will help diversify our tourism economy which includes intensifying our efforts in Asia and the meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) market, two areas that have been gaining momentum for the state.

We want to extend our aloha to the NFL and wish them well for the 2015 game in Arizona, and look forward to welcoming them back to Hawai‘i in 2016.

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*The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl visitor spending was calculated to also include expenditures by travel companions of the Pro Bowl attendees.

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