The City of Houston has entered a bid to host the 2017 Pro Bowl, the all-star game of the NFL American football league, in an effort to create a double-header with its staging of Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner made the announcement as the city seeks to secure a similar hosting agreement as that enjoyed by Phoenix in 2015 and Miami in 2010. The two cities staged the Pro Bowl prior to hosting the Super Bowl and Houston’s bid comes with the long-term future of the NFL’s all-star game currently undecided.
This year’s Pro Bowl took place in Hawaii on January 31, 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. The NFL this month confirmed that the league was looking at the possibility of taking the Pro Bowl to Australia or Brazil, with Sydney, Melbourne and Rio de Janeiro identified as potential destinations.
“With (college basketball showpiece) the Final Four coming in the first week of April and the possibility of the Pro Bowl, let's keep our fingers crossed that the Pro Bowl may come the week before the Super Bowl,” Turner said, according to the Houston Chronicle newspaper. “When Arizona had the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl, their economic benefit was something like $720m (€644.6m).When New Orleans had the Super Bowl, their economic benefit was $480m. And we're anticipating an economic impact of more than $500m. That's a huge benefit.
“The Pro Bowl has historically been held in Hawaii, but I know the NFL is trying to consolidate their Super Bowl experience with the Pro Bowl. They'd like them to be held in the same city. It just makes it much easier for everybody who's traveling who's affiliated with the city and the Super Bowl. It's a possibility. It would be ideal if it could happen.”
The NFL is expecting to make a decision on the future strategy for the Super Bowl this spring. Houston Super Bowl host committee chairman Ric Campo said a formal bid has been submitted, adding: “The NFL has to decide they want to come here. That's ultimately it. The Pro Bowl is an interesting game. A lot of it is the players bring their families and enjoy the benefits of the Pro Bowl. The player experience is key, and that's why they've been in Hawaii for a long time.
“The challenges are just destination appeal for players. What we have to do is convince not only the NFL but the players and broader constituents that Houston is a great place to come live, play, work and vacation. It would just be a bookend for Houston.”