The Hawaii Tourism Authority has declined comment on the Pro Bowl’s multi-year move pending the NFL’s own press conference Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., the game’s new home.
In a statement, Charlene Chan, HTA director of communications said, “The NFL is announcing its decision on Wednesday and has asked HTA to refrain from making any comment until then.”
The Orlando announcement will come just four months after Hawaii publicly thanked the NFL “… for bringing the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii this year (2016) and again in 2017.”
The Orlando press conference will confirm what has been widely reported, that the league has opted out of its contract with the HTA for the 2017 game. The prime members behind Orlando’s bid — Florida Citrus Sports officials, ESPN and Walt Disney World — are expected to be represented at the press conference.
The Pro Bowl will be played next year in the newly rebranded Citrus Bowl. The stadium underwent $200 million in renovations two years ago in hopes of attracting more major sporting events.
Today was the deadline for the NFL to either reaffirm its intention to return to Aloha Stadium under terms of the contract, or take the game elsewhere for just the third time since 1980.
The contract originally required the NFL to make its decision by March 31 but that was pushed back to May 31 by agreement of the two parties.
Orlando will reportedly pay the NFL about $2.5 million — half of the HTA’s $5.15 million contracted payment — for the 2017 game, with slight escalations for future games.
Florida Citrus Sports had been seeking a three-year deal.
In addition to Hawaii, Houston and Sydney, Australia were among the locations seeking the Pro Bowl, the NFL said.
In recent years, the NFL has attempted to ramp up interest in its all-star game. In addition to twice moving its location, the league has shifted the game from being played a week after the Super Bowl to being played the week between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl. Select former star players now pick teams, instead of having the traditional AFC-NFC matchup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.