Hawaii governor staunchly opposed to paying for Pro Bowl

If first-year Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s remarks resonate at all, the Pro Bowl will not be in Hawaii much longer. Not unless the NFL is willing to go there for free.

Abercrombie ripped a deal in which the state of Hawaii pays $4 million per year to the league to host the all-star game at Aloha Stadium on the island of Oahu. He called it “so stupid” that the state ponies up money when it could be better spent on education, according to the Associated Press.

The current deal runs through the 2012 Pro Bowl at the end of this coming season.

You can't do things like give 4 million bucks to a $9 billion football industry and not give any money to children,” Abercrombie said as he announced early childhood education and health plans. “You've got this spectacle of these multimillionaires and billionaires out there arguing about how they're going to divide it up, and then they come and ask us to bribe them with $4 million to have a scrimmage out here in paradise.

“We've got to get our values straight and our priorities straight.”

The Pro Bowl called Aloha Stadium home for 30 consecutive years until the 2010 game was played in Miami, a move the players were firmly against. The game returned to the island this past year. Abercrombie says the NFL can take the game wherever it wants if it wants the state to continue to pay for the game.

Per the report, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment. What’s interesting is Abercrombie seems to ignore the fact the game generates revenue for the state. The estimate is the game this past January brought 17,000 visitors to Hawaii and they spent a combined $28.15 million, meaning more than $3 million in state taxes.

The former mayor of Honolulu said the game boosts the economy and helped support government programs. But Abercrombie said newly created same-sex civil unions will boost travel to the state as much as the Pro Bowl.

“We'll get more out of civil unions in a weekend then we'll get out of those guys,” Abercrombie said. “We're going to market. Don't worry about marketing.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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