TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona will be the epicenter of the football world for not one but two weeks at the end of January.
In addition to hosting Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will host the Pro Bowl a week before, the NFL announced Wednesday.
The Cardinals and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee will host the Pro Bowl and associated activities.
Hosting the Pro Bowl was the idea of Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, who approached NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about doing so a couple years ago when the NFL was looking for ideas to increase the all-star game’s appeal. There even was question whether the game would continue to be played.
"The dialogue started then," Bidwill said Wednesday afternoon at the Cardinals Training Complex. "We’ve been working closely with the league and with the Super Bowl Host Committee about finding a way we could host this game."
The 2015 Pro Bowl will be the second not played in Hawaii since 1980 and the third played in the same city as the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Coliseum hosted the first Super Bowl on January 15, 1967, and the Pro Bowl the following week. South Florida hosted the Pro Bowl in 2010 a week before Super Bowl XLIV.
The NFL already announced the Pro Bowl will return to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu in 2016 and per an agreement between the league and Hawaii the 2017 game is supposed to be played there as well, "but final confirmation of the game will be made at a later date," the league release stated.
"Right now, this is on a one-time basis," Bidwill said. "But we’ll see how it goes."
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said the 2014 Pro Bowl generated nearly $72 million in direct visitor spending, the Associated Press reported, including spending by people who traveled with Pro Bowl attendees.
Neither Bidwill nor David Rousseau, chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, had economic-impact projections for the Arizona Pro Bowl, but Bidwill foresees any costs "will be outweighed by the benefits," specifically the exposure for the state and Valley.
"When you look at the game that has been played in Hawaii and the way it’s been broadcast, it turns into sort of a soft infomercial for Hawaiian tourism," Bidwill said. "We hope this time around with the game in Arizona we are able to showcase Arizona and emphasize such an important industry for our state: tourism."
This year, 11.4 million people watched the Pro Bowl.
Still, the NFL in recent years has tried various ways to make the Pro Bowl more entertaining. Last season, players were selected without regard to conference and were drafted on to the two teams. The same format will continue in 2015, though Bidwill said additional changes should be expected.
Tickets for the Pro Bowl will be available first to Cardinals season-ticket holders and annual Pro Bowl season-ticket holders.
Rousseau said he expects two different crowds for the games. A more regional crowd for the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl and then a national and even international crowd for the Super Bowl.
"There is certainly going to be an earlier start to all things NFL," Rousseau said. "This will set the stage a week prior. … It will have to be a little more coordinated effort, but the positives outweigh that. The net-net certainly is a positive."