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Sports: Stars Align

Hawai‘i gets set to host the annual NFL Pro Bowl.

The NFL Pro Bowl allows football fans from Hawai‘i and the world a chance to catch a glimpse of the world’s best players battling it out at Aloha Stadium. On Feb. 10, the 37th edition of the all-star game—and the 28th to be played in Hawai‘i—will feature teams from the league’s National and American Football Conferences. Fans, coaches and players cast votes which determine who plays and who stays home. This year, a record 69.8 million fans cast their ballots.

The Pro Bowl celebrated its 25th year in Hawai‘i back in 2004. photo: Kyle Galdeira

Local fans will get to cheer on two players with Hawai‘i ties, who will be making homecoming appearances. Olin Kreutz was selected to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and will anchor the NFC’s offensive line at center, as he has done throughout his career with the Chicago Bears. The perennial all-star from Honolulu got his start at St. Louis High and later went on to play for the University of Washington Huskies. Mat McBriar, of the Dallas Cowboys, is making his first all-star appearance as the punter for the NFC squad. The Aussie is no stranger to Aloha Stadium as he unleashed booming punts for the University of Hawai‘i from 2000-02.

Beyond the game: Aloha Stadium has sold out for 27 consecutive Pro Bowls, but don’t worry, the 2007 Pro Bowl Week involves a multitude of celebrations, events and parties you can enjoy. Some of this year’s scheduled events—at which selected players and cheerleaders will appear—include a kick-off rally at Bishop Square, a football festival at Kapi‘olani Park and a block party on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. For a full schedule of events, check out nfl.com/probowl.

Money maker: According to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s 2006 Annual Report, the Pro Bowl was seen on television by 2.9 million viewers and attracted nearly 27,000 visitors. This accounted for $33.26 million in visitor spending and $3.23 in state tax revenue. The state has a contract with the NFL to continue hosting the Pro Bowl through 2009, at a cost to Hawai‘i of $4 million per year. For its part, the NFL has for the past 10 years made an effort to reach out to the local community, donating more than $3.5 million to local youth and community service organizations and charities.

Don’t have a ticket? While tickets for the game are sold out, there are still methods for securing a seat. Take your chance on game day by trying to purchase a ticket from a scalper at the stadium, or try online at sites like stubhub.com, where tickets are sold at marked-up prices (legally) ranging anywhere from $50 to over $1,000. If you prefer to watch the game from the comfort of home, it will be televised live on KGMB-9.

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,February

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