HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The turnout for Saturday’s preseason game between the Rams and Cowboys was the highest for a single event at Aloha Stadium in the past several years, underscoring the huge demand for NFL football here.
Tourism officials say there’s a lot of interest by the Rams in future preseason games in the islands.
“They have talked to us about being the visiting team and working with us within bringing in other NFL teams for a preseason game," said Hawaii Tourism Authority Chairman Rick Fried.
Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, added it’s "no secret they want Hawaii to be a part of Rams nation."
"Having a popular team like Dallas and lots of fans at Aloha Stadium, it was a perfect match.”
If it were up the coaches, future preseason games would definitely be played in the islands.
“I thought it was a fantastic couple of days,” said Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett. “The hospitality we got here on Oahu has been off the charts.”
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay agreed.
“What a great atmosphere and environment it was. The fans were awesome from the start to the finish," he said.
It’s three years since the last Pro Bowl was played at Aloha Stadium.
But Hawaii tourism officials say they’re now more interested in preseason games because bringing back the Pro Bowl would be costly. They add that fan interest is also higher for preseason games.
“I think we’re in a position where we don’t need to have the Pro Bowl here," Hannemann said.
"It would be nice. Certainly the dynamics have changed. I think we can do it more on our terms and not the NFL’s terms.”
Attracting the NFL here long-term will also require a major overhaul of Aloha Stadium.
Right now, Aloha Stadium seats about 50,000, but state officials are looking at building a smaller arena with 30,000 to 40,000 seats.
The Pro Bowl in Orlando sells about 50,000 to 60,000 tickets.
“Thirty-five (thousand) seems to be the right size in terms of almost every event,” Fried said.