Abercrombie wants to sack Pro Bowl payments - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Abercrombie wants to sack Pro Bowl payments

Governor Neil Abercrombie Governor Neil Abercrombie

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie harshly criticized the practice of paying the NFL $4 million a year to help convince the league to play the Pro Bowl in Honolulu when the money is sorely needed elsewhere.

"You can't do things like give $4 million to a $9 billion football industry and not give money to children," Abercrombie said.

His remarks came Thursday during a press conference on early childhood education.

"The littlest kids are the most important," Abercrombie said.

He lamented not having enough money for kids yet still having to consider paying the NFL to keep the Pro Bowl to Honolulu.

"That happens to be an easy target because it is so stupid," the governor said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority's contract with the NFL for the 2012 Pro Bowl in Honolulu calls for the HTA to pay the NFL $4 million. It will be the last game under the current contract. After that the game could leave Hawaii as it did in 2010 when it was played in Miami.

"Right now you've got this spectacle of these multi millionaires and billionaires out there arguing about how they are going to divide it up and then they come and ask us to bribe them with $4 million to have a scrimmage out here in paradise," Abercrombie said.

He later said when the state had what he called "a little extra," paying the NFL made sense. But he does not think it makes sense now, not when the budget is so tight workers are being furloughed and money is being cut from education and human services programs.

The HTA reported the 2011 Pro Bowl in February generated $28.15 million in visitor spending and $3.07 million in state tax revenue from people who came to the islands just for the game.

We asked Abercrombie to weigh money the game generated against the $4 million paid by the HTA.

"Oh please. You know we'll get more out of civil unions in a weekend than we'll get out of those guys. You want to market? We're going to market. Don't worry about marketing," he concluded.

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