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Hawaii tourism officials fight to retain Pro Bowl

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is to meet with the NFL today (Thursday) in an effort to keep the American football league’s annual all-star game, the Pro Bowl, in the US state.

This year’s Pro Bowl will take place in Hawaii on Sunday, with the state capital of Honolulu having hosted the event every year since 1980, with the exception of the 2010 and 2015 events that were staged in Florida and Arizona, respectively.

The NFL has an agreement with the State of Hawaii to play the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium following the 2016 season, but the deal has a clause that would allow the league to opt out of the agreement.

Leslie Dance, vice-president of marketing and product development for the HTA, said the organisation is committed to staging the annual event. Approximately 35,000 people travel to Hawaii to attend the game and spend around $28m (€25.6m), with the state receiving $2.8m in tax revenue as a result.

“They're coming into our offices on Thursday so we can sit down and firm up the details,” Dance said, according to the HawaiiNewsNow website. “So, if there's anything for them to tell us at that point in time I'm sure they will.”

Despite Hawaii’s intention to retain the Pro Bowl, the NFL has yet to commit to future games in the state. Merton Hanks, vice-president of football operations at the NFL, said the league was “looking forward to making this week, this time, this year the best Pro Bowl” and will “worry about the future when the future gets here”.

The meeting comes after Australian newspaper the Sunday Telegraph this week said that the city of Sydney is preparing to submit a bid to stage the 2017 event. The reported bid comes after Sydney secured the season-opener of the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Football Championships. In March of last year, the NFL also said that it was considering staging the Pro Bowl in Brazil in 2017.

Dance added to the Khon2.com website: “We are 100 per cent about having the game come back and we want to honour that contract and keep Hawaii in the Pro Bowl, because the players love it here and we love having them.”