Pro Bowl to continue, site may change
There are plenty of changes in the NFL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but ending the league's annual all-star game isn't one of them.
FOXSports.com has learned that the Pro Bowl will continue through the course of the 10-year labor pact.
The future site of the game will remains in flux like in recent seasons. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told FOXSports.com in a Sunday morning email that the league will annually "determine the location of the Pro Bowl in consultation with the NFL (Players Association)."
The Pro Bowl was a long-time fixture in Hawaii but financial disagreements with state government led the NFL to move the 2010 contest to South Florida where Super Bowl XLIV was being played. The Pro Bowl returned to Hawaii last season and will be held there once again Jan. 29, 2012 which is the week before Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
However, there are no future guarantees of a Hawaiian return. Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie said in June that it was "stupid" for the state to pay the NFL a $4 million annual stipend to host the Pro Bowl despite claims from tourism officials that the 2011 game generated $28.2 million in revenue from 17,000 visiting fans.
"We'll get more out of civil unions in a weekend then we'll get out of (the Pro Bowl)," said Abercrombie, referring to same-sex marriages that are now sanctioned by the state.
The quality of the game itself has also come under fire with players and coaches approaching the contest with less intensity than even the most meaningless preseason contest. The Pro Bowl, though, remains a standard by which players are judged as well as a television ratings winner. The 2011 game on FOX drew its largest audience (13.4 million viewers) since 1997 and marked a nine-percent increase from the previous season.