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Pro Bowl moving from Hawaii to Orlando

2016 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium (Image: Hawaii News Now) 2016 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium (Image: Hawaii News Now)
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ORLANDO, Florida (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It's official: The Pro Bowl is moving from Hawaii to Orlando.

NFL.com reports that the all-star game will be played in central Florida in 2017 and the following year.

Some are calling the departure of the game a black eye for the islands, but others are happy to see it go.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Hawaii will do just fine without the Pro Bowl.

"I don't think there's going to be a major impact," he said.

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said the loss of the Pro Bowl comes as Hawaii is seeing record tourism numbers.

"From tourism numbers, we're not going to miss a beat," he said. "Tourism is going strong."

Hannemann, though, did say the game's departure means Hawaii loses a key partnership with a major sporting organization, and that might have a ripple effect.

"We've lost a relationship with one of the most prestigious leagues in the world.  So it's like an airline route, when they're not flying to your city anymore and they take that plane elsewhere," he said. "It's going to be hard to bring that back."

But Dana Alden, chair of the Marketing Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Shidler College of Business, called the Pro Bowl a "broken product" that "needs a lot of work."

"You have players not committing. You don't have the Super Bowl players coming. So I think there are some product issues that need to be addressed," he said.

Alden added that the Pro Bowl is struggling to boost viewership, and comes with a big price tag.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority was set to pay $5.2 million for the Pro Bowl, and has pegged its economic impact at over $20 million.

That figure has been questioned, however.

"I would just question whether or not it’s really worth the investment at this time," he said. "I think it's a car that's in need of a major overhaul before we invest in it again."

The HTA declined comment Tuesday.  The NFL is scheduled to discuss the move at a news conference in Orlando on Wednesday.

The Aloha Stadium has been the host of the Pro Bowl almost every season since 1979. Hawaii had the contract for next year, but the NFL had the option to opt out.

There's no word yet on whether the game will undergo any format changes in Orlando.

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