Gov softens tone as state negotiates to keep Pro Bowl

Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Greg Jennings
Greg Jennings
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Just five days before the last Pro Bowl guaranteed by contract to be played at Aloha Stadium Governor Neil Abercrombie made conciliatory remarks during a surprise appearance at a Pro Bowl news conference. The state is negotiating with the NFL in hopes of keeping the Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

"Despite any stories to the contrary, the relationship is solid and we hope is going to stay that way for the benefit of everybody," Abercrombie said while addressing media at the news conference. "I'm particularly grateful for the stage of the ... I guess they're called negotiations … but they are really conversations between friends as to how we can mutually benefit everyone with regard to the continuation of the Pro Bowl being here," Abercrombie said.

"We've had an excellent relationship with the Pro Bowl here over the years and we would like to continue to have it and we're going to do everything we can to continue to make sure that that comes about," he added.

The governor's tone was very different in June when, during a press conference at the state capitol, he lamented not having money for early childhood education but having to pay the NFL $4 million to stage the 2011 Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

"I mean you can't do things like give four-million bucks to a nine billion dollar football industry and not give any money to children," Abercrombie said in June.

His words reached NFL headquarters in New York.

"We are aware of the comments of the governor recently," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson said at Tuesday's news conference.

"We are very confident that we will continue to have good faith discussions with the state of Hawaii. As said before, we love everything about the community and we have to be hopeful that a mutually beneficial result will be achieved," Anderson remarked.

"This is important to Hawaii. There's no other opportunity that can give us this much exposure," Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney told Hawaii News Now outside the press conference.

McCartney said the 2011 Pro Bowl generated $28 million in visitor spending and $3 million in state tax revenue. McCartney is spearheading negotiations with the NFL.

"We're going to work very hard to continue the relationship," he said.

No matter where future Pro Bowls will be played, the NFL seems intent on playing the game the week before the Super Bowl and not the week after the Super Bowl as they had been played for years. The Pro Bowl gets better television ratings when played before the Super Bowl and that makes advertisers, the network that airs the game, and the NFL very happy.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.