Arizona to host 2015 Pro Bowl
Aloha, meet the desert.
Arizona will be the epicenter of the NFL next January and February, and not just because Super Bowl XLIX will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
The NFL announced Wednesday that the 2015 Pro Bowl will precede the Super Bowl by a week on the same field. The Pro Bowl will be played at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 25, 2015, and will air on ESPN. The Super Bowl is Feb. 1.
It's the third time the Pro Bowl has been played in the same city as the Super Bowl. In 1967, the Los Angeles Coliseum hosted both events, and the most recent was in 2010 in South Florida.
According to the NFL's release, the Pro Bowl will move back to Hawaii in 2016. Through an agreement between the league and Hawaii, the 2017 game is supposed to be played at Aloha Stadium, "but final confirmation of the game will be made at a later date," the release stated.
Arizona last hosted the Super Bowl in 2008.
Tourism officials in Hawaii said they were pleased that the game was coming back in 2016 and the deal has an option for the game to be played in Hawaii in 2017.
"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," Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the main agency that markets the state to tourists, said the 2014 Pro Bowl generated nearly $72 million in direct visitor spending, including spending by people who traveled with Pro Bowl attendees.
The agency said Hawaii will pay $5 million to support hosting the Pro Bowl in 2016 and repurpose funds set aside for the 2015 game toward other initiatives, including drawing more conventions and tourists from Asia.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, who leads a state initiative to try to attract big sporting events to Hawaii, said the loss of the 2015 game sends a message that the state has to stay proactive and competitive while other destinations push value and Hawaii grapples with issues like how to freshen an aging stadium.
"We've anticipated having to compete harder for all kind of different events, not just with the NFL but with other events," Tsutsui said. "We can't just take those things for granted anymore."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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