The league is talking to the players' union about how to improve and preserve the game
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 27, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 1:37 a.m. HST, Apr 27, 2012
Have NFL fans seen the last of the Pro Bowl?
The game could be suspended next year, two people familiar with discussions said Thursday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, among others, expressed concerns about the quality of play after January's game in Honolulu, and the league has been holding talks with the players' union about the future of the all-star game.
Responding to an ESPN report that Goodell is "strongly considering" suspending the game in 2013, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: "No determination has been made yet."
Goodell said before the Super Bowl in February he was unhappy with what he saw in the AFC's 59-41 win in the Pro Bowl -- a game that often resembled touch football.
Many players chosen for the game bow out, and if the Pro Bowl is held before the Super Bowl, as it was during the past three years, players from the conference champions don't participate.
San Francisco 49ers chief executive Jed York questioned his followers on Twitter about their feeling toward the Pro Bowl, then concluded later that there "Doesn't seem to be much love" in the responses.
The game still draws solid TV ratings, but isn't considered a money maker. Although viewership dropped 8.1 percent in January, the Pro Bowl still was the highest-rated sports program of the weekend.
Hawaii began hosting the game in 1980 and it was held here annually until 2010, when it moved to Miami and was played the week before the Super Bowl. The game returned to Hawaii in 2011.
"We understand that the suspension of the Pro Bowl is a possibility," Mike McCartney, chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority said in a statement.
"However, we are still in discussions with the NFL about the possibility of holding the event here."
The tourism authority, which generates revenue from a tax on hotel rooms, has been paying the NFL $4 million to bring the game to the islands. The authority touts the $25 million Pro Bowl visitors spend during their stay. It also values the advertising it gets when the nation sees sun-soaked players running across the field in the middle of winter.
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