NFL Pro Bowl economic impact trickles down

Kamikaze Team
Kamikaze Team

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii tourism officials are counting on sunshine and momentum from the NFL play-offs to bring big bucks to our islands. Tens of millions, potentially. That's the big picture, but the Pro Bowl also has a trickle-down effect.

We all know the Pro Bowl is a boon to Hawaii.

"It's about 30 million in economic impact," says Mike Story from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Research shows 24 thousand visitors will attend, and 19-thousand come specifically for the game. Mark Canto is visiting from Massachusetts. "I wanted to see the players, have a good time in Hawaii - a little vacation for us." Canto and Lisa Beck left the 14 degree Boston tundra behind, and during their week here, they expect to drop about three to four thousand bucks.

That's music to the ears of vendors.

Since 2004, parents of the Kamikaze girls softball team have volunteered at several official, Pro Bowl merchandise stores in Waikiki. In return, the high school team gets a commission. The fundraiser helps send the girls to a summer tournament in Colorado.

"There's over 300 college coaches that attend this, so if the girls perform well, they get noticed," says Al Belshe, the Kamikazes softball coach and a parent.

When the Pro Bowl skipped town for Miami last year, the Kamikazes took a big hit. Head coach Mitch Matsumoto says, "It was really hard because this is our primary fundraiser for our softball club. So, it not being here, we had to scramble and try to make money other ways."

Last year, for the first time, the NFL moved the Pro Bowl to the "gap" week between the play-offs and the Super Bowl. TV ratings doubled. Local tourism marketing officials will be tracking this year's TV numbers to see how many armchair quarterbacks in cold country will be eyeing our picture-perfect weather. The thought of it makes them practically giddy. "There's another snow storm on the east coast!" smiles Story.

From top to bottom, there's a lot riding on this game.

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