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The NFL is keeping its Pro Bowl options open for 2017, telling Houston to be prepared for the possibility of hosting the annual all-star game in addition to the Super Bowl.
“Part of our agreement when we were awarded the (Super Bowl) is that we would also be prepared to host the Pro Bowl, if they chose to bring it to Houston,” said Sallie Sargent, executive director of the Super Bowl LI Committee in Houston.
When the NFL announced Wednesday that Glendale, Ariz., would host the 2015 Pro Bowl in addition to the 2015 Super Bowl, it said Honolulu would hold the 2016 Pro Bowl and there was an agreement with Hawaii for the 2017 game, “but final confirmation of the game will be made at a later date.”
An NFL spokesman later said the league and Hawaii both have options for the 2017 game and “we will collectively make a decision.” The spokesman said there was “no timeline” for the decision.
With the exception of 2010, when both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl were held in South Florida as an experiment, the Pro Bowl has been held at Aloha Stadium every year since 1980.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has favored a rotation for the game. Speculation has been that Honolulu would stand a better chance of hosting the Pro Bowl in years when the Super Bowl was held at cold weather sites.
Unlike Arizona, where Cardinals president Michael Bidwill sought a Super Bowl/Pro Bowl tandem, Houston has not campaigned for the Pro Bowl, Sargent said. “I think it is more about whether or not the NFL chooses to come here (with the Pro Bowl),” Sargent said.
Sargent said, “Honestly, there really hasn’t been much discussion around here in the Houston community (of the Pro Bowl).
“I don’t know that we would actively pursue it. It would obviously adjust some of our thinking with how we would position ourselves with the game.”
Hawaii, which paid $4 million, plus $152,000 in operational expenses, to serve as host for the 2014 Pro Bowl, has agreed to pay $5 million plus the $152,000 in operational expenses for 2016, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. ___