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Sydney targets NFL’s Pro Bowl

The Australian city of Sydney is preparing to submit a bid to host the 2017 Pro Bowl, the annual all-star game of American football league the NFL.

Australian newspaper the Sunday Telegraph said Sydney is now being seriously viewed by the NFL as a legitimate location for matches after it secured the season-opener of the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Football Championships.

Australia will host its first regular-season college American football match in over 30 years on August 27 after the deal was struck in November. The game will take place at Sydney’s 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium between the University of California’s Cal Bears and the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors. The game will be known as the Sydney College Football Cup.

The Sunday Telegraph said Sydney’s fellow Australian city Melbourne, and Brazil, are also in contention for the Pro Bowl, but added that Sydney’s proven record in hosting major sporting events, including Major League Baseball’s 2014 season-opener at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), makes it the frontrunner.

Stuart Ayres, New South Wales’ Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, said: “Sydney is Australia’s home of sport and major events. We welcome any opportunity to bid on what is arguably one of the most exciting events on the world sporting calendar.

“Sydney has a proven track record of attracting the biggest and best events the world has to offer. A city full of wonderful people, great weather and proximity to Asia, there is no better place than Sydney. The fact college football is coming to Sydney in August puts us in the box seat to showcase our world-class credentials.”

The 2015 Pro Bowl moved away from its traditional home in Hawaii to be staged at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, the site of that year’s Super Bowl. Honolulu had staged the Pro Bowl every year since 1980, with the exception of 2010.

The Pro Bowl this year returns to Hawaii on January 31. The NFL has an agreement with the State of Hawaii to play the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium following the 2016 season but said in 2014 that “final confirmation” of the game would be made at a later date.

The NFL said in March that it was considering staging the Pro Bowl in Brazil in 2017. “We are looking forward to returning to Hawaii for next year’s (2016) game, but we have not made any decisions on future sites for the Pro Bowl beyond the game slated for 2016,” NFL vice-president of communications Brian McCarthy told SportBusiness International at the time.

“For 2017 and beyond, we are studying the future of the Pro Bowl. Brazil – an area with a growing number of NFL fans – as a possible host is one of the ideas that is worth additional analysis.”

Sydney last hosted an NFL game in 1999 when a pre-season match between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers drew 73,811 fans to ANZ Stadium.