HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a decade-long hiatus, the Hula Bowl will return in January 2018, organizers announced Friday.
But the first new game won't be played in Hawaii. It will be played in Raleigh, N.C.
Hawaii will have to wait until 2019 to see the Hula Bowl's return to Aloha Stadium.
When it still had status, the Hula Bowl showcased college football's best players.
Rich Miano played in the 1985 game. "You'd have Heisman Trophy Winners, Outland Trophy winners. You'd have everybody who's anybody in college football. So its great that this brand is still recognized," he said.
The last Hula Bowl was played in Hawaii in 2008.
And on Friday, the mainland-based owner of the event announced it was making a comeback.
"You have to support these things to keep it here because there's logistical challenges. But what better place to have a sporting event than Aloha Stadium," Miano said.
Holding the Hula Bowl in North Carolina follows protests earlier this year surrounding the passage of a controversial transgender bathroom law. The NBA All-Star game and NCAA basketball championships canceled their events in the state, as did more than a dozen business conventions.
"They're saying this is a backward move and we will not support it, and we will use our dollars to express that we will not support it," LGBT activist and attorney Jo-Ann Adams said.
She believes playing the game in Hawaii in alternating years could teach North Carolina a lesson.
"I think the opportunity to have it in Raleigh and then followed shortly thereafter by Honolulu could present a tremendous educational opportunity to juxtapose a culture with a culture where there is the aloha spirit. There's a feeling of inclusion," she said.
Miano added, "It's a great place to live and everybody is equal. I think this is a model for the rest of the United States, if not the rest of the world."
The old Hula Bowl was a seniors-only game. The re-booted version will include underclassmen and players from outside the United States.