Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Dec 2008

2010 Pro Bowl to be in Miami, Before Super Bowl

The Pro Bowl next season will take place on the Sunday between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, in Dolphins Stadium, sight of Super Bowl XLIV. The site and date of the game are both 1-year deals; things could change in 2011.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 30 Dec 2008

45 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2009, 4:17pm by Boston Dan

Comments

1
by PackNick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:23pm

Ew.

2
by Sergio :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:25pm

Like that State Farm commercial: I'm *so* there.

-- Go Phins!

3
by andrew :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:30pm

I like it. Presumably no players on the superbowl teams will play and be replaced.

It gives us something for the down week and it adds to superbowl week. I live in south florida and while I doubt I'd spring for a superbowl ticket unless my team (Vikings) make it, I'd happily go to the pro bowl, something that was long impractical by being so far away.

4
by John A (not verified) :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:31pm

Does this all but guarantee an even more boring Pro Bowl that no one from either Super Bowl team will bother attending for fear of injury?

7
by dancingeek@gmail.com :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:37am

That's what I was thinking until I realized that with the Super Bowl the week before, very few players from that game end up playing in the Pro Bowl anyway.

11
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:51am

No, most of them do - especially the ones who win. Super Bowl victors get to the Pro Bowl last. It's kindof a "heroes entrance" thing.

5
by Megamanic (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:11am

Horrible idea. Miami's ok but the timing stinks.

6
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:29am

For anyone that's never been to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, this is a really, really bad idea. They go pretty crazy in Honolulu - taking over downtown Waikiki (literally), and a lot of the Pro Bowl players are literally walking around during the block party. In the days before the game, the practices are completely open and free to the public. It's a pretty cool atmosphere.

There's no way, whatsoever, that Miami, the week before the Super Bowl, will offer that kind of an atmosphere. It can't. The Pro Bowl activities continue for the entire week before the game. This way, fans - and players! - won't even know who will be there until a few days before then.

It sucks for the players, too: several of the players have commented that arriving last for the Pro Bowl as the Super Bowl champs do is a pretty cool feeling.

It's just a stupid idea. You're going to exclude a bunch of players that fans want to see, and economically, it doesn't make any sense - half the people who show up for the Pro Bowl are likely showing up for the Super Bowl, so they won't spend any more money at the Pro Bowl.

I can't imagine this will last longer than one year. I don't know if it'll go back to Honolulu (although apparently the NFLPA might require it as part of the new CBA) but there's no way they'll keep it before the Super Bowl. Again, just a stupid idea.

23
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 1:43pm

And for the other 99.9% of NFL fans that have never been to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl and probably never would, this could be a great idea.

The Pro Bowl probably garners the least interest out of all the major all-star games. It's fine and dandy that the atmosphere in Hawaii is great, but if nobody else really gives a rat's ass that's not really doing the league any good. At least this way (and I'm assuming this is what the league is thinking also) you may be able drum up more interest from the general public.

25
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:13pm

It's fine and dandy that the atmosphere in Hawaii is great, but if nobody else really gives a rat's ass that's not really doing the league any good.

Except for the decent amount of money it makes. The Pro Bowl has very good attendance, and merchandise sales are good. Its problem is the TV ratings - they suck. Horribly.

That's the only thing this is about. It won't improve the attendance - for one thing, the impending Super Bowl will make travel arrangements a pain in the neck, and honestly, if you are going to go to Miami, aren't you going to try to get tickets to the Super Bowl? If you can't, do you really care about the Pro Bowl as a consolation prize? It won't improve the merchandise sales, because it'll take away money from the Super Bowl merchandise sales. Will holding it a week before the Super Bowl improve the TV ratings? Not with a huge amount of the players skipping out, I'd imagine.

It's all about the TV ratings, and nothing they can do would improve that, because it won't be a good game.

31
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:11pm

Everything the league does is about the TV ratings.

45
by Boston Dan :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 4:17pm

This is clearly a cost-cutting move. No surprise there.

Are the Lions going to survive the Great Recession?

8
by Independent George :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:42am

Wow. What's amazing is that this is really only the second-dumbest decision to come out of the NFL today.

9
by andrew :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 1:12am

Look, I doubt anyone outside of Hawaii cared about the pro bowl in its current format.

I've never been to Hawaii. I don't know if I'll ever go. But if I did by some chance get put in a position to be able to go, the last thing I'd be going for is a football experience. I just can't imagine going there for football.

The probowl is largely irrelevant anyway. They put it in Hawaii so the players would actually show up, which they routinely didn't care to before that.

By tying it to the superbowl, they both get the players wanting to be involved, and they tie it to an experience that more people actually care about. The entire two weeks leading up to the superbowl are already a big party atmosphere, tons of players are in town to see it and party around it and lots of fans get caught up in the superbowl experience. By having it on the mainland its also something you could actually drive to as well.

I think this is a fantastic idea and i hope the NFL renews it.

10
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:47am

Look, I doubt anyone outside of Hawaii cared about the pro bowl in its current format.

The completely and totally sold out hotels in Waikiki and extremely large numbers of tourists would tend to disagree.

The Pro Bowl is a terrible TV sell, but it's a hugely popular attraction. And moving it to Miami before the Super Bowl, and stripping several stars (if not most of the playoff stars - who the heck is going to want to practice just after losing a conference championship?!) is not going to help its TV popularity.

The most people I ever see in Waikiki happens during the Pro Bowl. By something like a factor of 10. It's crazy.

12
by Aaron M. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:36am

Sure it's popular in Hawaii. That's why the stadium is barely half full.

14
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:12am

In a strange world where "half" equals "perpetually sold out," sure.

13
by Richie :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:46am

According to this: http://www.sportingchronicle.com/nfl/probowl.html there was basically 50,000 people in attendance at every Pro Bowl played in Hawaii.

15
by Aaron M. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:40am

Have you ever watched the game on TV? It never looks full. Maybe everyone shows up for the start and leaves, or they sell all the tickets to corporate sponsors and the seats sit empty, I don't know. I only know what I've seen on TV, and it just doesn't look full. Or maybe I just think that because I haven't watched the game in years, and I remember an empty stadium from years ago in the 4th quarter or something. I don't know. The stadium only seats around 50,000. You could have it in any other stadium in America and sell more tickets than that.

Besides, who cares where they have the Pro Bowl? It's not like you'll ever go see one, will you? Same with the Super Bowl, the average fan got priced out of that a long time ago. Who cares about the Pro Bowl? It's a meaningless game anyways where no one tries all that hard. Just drop the game and be done with it. I do think though, that the average fan will tune in for a game before the Super Bowl. After the Super Bowl, the season is over and no one really cares.
/sarcasm/ Maybe they should do it baseball style and make it count for home field for the Super Bowl! /end sarcasm/

24
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:06pm

Yes, that's right. We'll go with your anecdotal memory of what the stadium looks like over actual attendance. That sounds smart.

Besides, who cares where they have the Pro Bowl? It's not like you'll ever go see one, will you?

The pictures I have from the 2008 Pro Bowl (and the 2009 Pro Bowl in a few months) kinda disagree with you.

Who cares about the Pro Bowl?

The ridiculous numbers of tourists who come to see it? Seriously, just because you think no one cares about it doesn't mean it's even remotely true. It's a major attraction.

28
by Richie :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:37pm

I don't think I've seen a single play of the Pro Bowl in 15 years. I might - just might - watch a little bit if it's played the week before the Super Bowl.

40
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:29am

You might - maybe a play or two. Or three. But not any more than that. And then you won't watch again. The game itself will still suck, and still mean nothing.

16
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:19am

This is both an effort to cut costs (by keeping the pro bowl on the mainland , and at a venue in which the NFL is prepping anyway for the SB) and increase its television viewership and ad revenue(by plugging it in between the end of the playoffs and before the SB).

It might be cool in Hawaii, and popular with the locals and all that good stuff, but if it doesn't sell TV ad revenue, its a burden to the NFL.

27
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:14pm

but if it doesn't sell TV ad revenue, its a burden to the NFL.

Then it should be axed. Its TV revenue won't improve, because it won't be a good game, and it still means nothing.

17
by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 10:19am

I can't imagine being in the week between Conference Championships and the Superbowl will hurt the game's TV ratings. I, for one, basically shut off from football once the Superbowl is over, so I rarely even remember the Pro Bowl is being played until I see the results headline (which I promptly forget). I think the game will have a lot more appeal as an appetizer than as some half-assed dessert.

18
by Theo :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 10:41am

Make that 4 teams with players who won't play in the Pro Bowl.

19
by Jeff M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 11:52am

Exactly. Are players who just lost a Conference Championship game and missed out on going to the Superbowl any more likely to show up than ones who just lost a Superbowl are now? No players from the top four teams...get ready for the Calvin Johnson Memorial Pro Bowl!

35
by Lance :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:14pm

Don't Pro Bowl players get a bonus? If you get 10 or 20 grand for playing, don't you show up anyhow? Or not?

20
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:26pm

I can't wait until the Super Bowl is in Indy, and the NFL tries to convince players they really, really should participate, because Indy is such an attractive February vacation spot. Bring your families, too!

A meaningless game doesn't suddenly acquire meaning when it's played between meaningful games. All you lost is the participation of people who'll be playing in the next meaningful game or just played in the previous meaningful games.

Best guess: the Pro Bowl ends up in Miami on a semi-permanent basis, just because it's cheaper to go there than Hawaii.

21
by Dice (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:54pm

Pro Bowl is stupid anyway; I would never even think to play in it unless I had a monster insurance policy. As it stood, it sounded good: trip to Hawaii, even if you have to pay for the wife/kids to go. Now, no way I could see many players wanting to play in it before the SB. But hey, anything to make a bad idea worse, right?

22
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 1:42pm

Yeah, because the average Pro-bowler is so strapped for cash that getting a single free airfare is enough of a reason that they all jump at the opportunity to save a few bucks.

26
by disestablishmentarianism (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:45pm

Another potential reason is that Aloha Stadium is planned to be upgraded with construction from March 2011 to June 2012 (click name for link). That would mess up the Winter 2012 Pro Bowl, so might as well test another market ASAP to see what works. But I also see it as an attempt to grow the Super Bowl brand by offering a full 2 weeks of festivities.

There needs to be more events though -- along the lines of other all star events. There really isn't a skills competition at the same venue the day before. So maybe a passing accuracy contest, long kick, hitting power or sled push, creative catch, who knows. Maybe an old-timers flag game.

Here's a really crazy idea. I watch a lot of hockey, and the best event is the outdoor game. Since a lot of Super Bowl stadia are located next to indoor arenas, maybe have the Pro Bowl be converted into an ARENA football game!!! The current actual pro bowl doesn't have much defense or hitting anyway.

33
by andrew :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:32pm

Or they could make it a touch football game on the beach so no one gets hurt..... oh, wait.

I do think the holding it while people are still into football is a bigger move than the actual site. When the superbowl is done, I'm done.

You ever try explaining to your girlfriend or wife why you need to watch football the week after the superbowl? They've probably been planning for weeks what they are going to do once football is over.

34
by disestablishmentarianism (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:50pm

Having touch football on a Hawaiian beach seems much safer than on, say, South Beach. Like, for example when a player bends over to pick up the ball.....

And seriously, they need a skills contest that is not some stupid event made up by some other sponsor and not the NFL itself. Imagine a "hardest hit" contest where Ray Lewis hits a tackling dummy with max force with some G-force readout. Or maybe at some high g-force level, the head pops off the dummy (rock'em sock'em robots!)

29
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:40pm

Why would somebody want to watch arena football?

I guess moving the game to the week before the SB means that Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, Chris Snee, Shaun O'Hara, Osi Omenyouri, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwinuka, Chase Blackburn, Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips and Larenitus won't get to go for the Giants next year. OK, Just kidding, Steve Smith won't make it but he will still be a hell of a go to guy on 3rd downs.

30
by B :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:07pm

Having the Pro-Bowl in Miami is a good idea, not necessarily a great one, but still good. However, having it before the Super Bowl is just dumb.

32
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:23pm

If the goal is to increase national viewership of the game, having it played the week before the SuperBowl is the only time that actually makes any sense. (I would assume) The vast majority of football fans shut the football-craving portion of their brains off immediately following the SuperBowl. You can't hold it any other time during the season due to injury risk. You can't hold it during the preseason because all the players are too busy with preseaon training. The only other viable time I could imagine playing the Pro Bowl would be to attach it to the draft in some fashion. Otherwise you're stuck with the week prior or week after the SuperBowl and obviously the week after isn't cutting it.

37
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 11:56pm

So why do the preseason football games ratings suck so much? You'd figure they'd be high, because everyone's craving football and hasn't seen any in a long while.

Except people aren't idiots. The games don't mean anything, and they aren't particularly good because the players aren't playing to win.

Sound familiar? It's impossible to increase TV viewership of the Pro Bowl, because the game sucks.

36
by GlennW :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:10pm

> The vast majority of football fans shut the football-craving portion of their brains off immediately following the SuperBowl.

I'll be shutting my football-craving brain off the weekend before the Super Bowl for the Pro Bowl, too-- which now not only won't feature the Super Bowl participants but other postseason players also (given the two-week time shift). I don't see how the TV part of this will be anything but a wash, where the ratings sit at obscure cable channel levels regardless. I think this is probably just an experiment, and maybe reduces some costs. Who knows where it ends up after that...

38
by Jerry :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:04am

Something I've always wondered: How much do Pro Bowl tickets cost?

39
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:25am

$75 or so for upper deck seats, $150 or so for lower deck seats.

41
by Jerry :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 8:01pm

Thanks. It's about what I'd expect, especially now that I'm paying $75 a ticket in the Heinz Field upper deck for pre- and regular season games.

42
by Lord K :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 10:13pm

Its worth the experiment, even if it probably won't do much for TV ratings. Aloha stadium will be closed for renovation anyway, and any attempt to make this game more relevant to the public is probably worth a try. As others have mentioned, the game sucks and no one watches it anyway so it hard to see what the League is risking here.

In short, probably won't succeed, but worth doing anyway.

43
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:22am

As others have mentioned, the game sucks and no one watches it anyway so it hard to see what the League is risking here.

The Super Bowl is the league's most popular event. By far. You put a game before it, and it doesn't help your sales at all - the upcoming Super Bowl was already popular, so it's not like you increase its popularity.

Put the game after the Super Bowl, and its sales are boosted by the Super Bowl. The merchandise at the Pro Bowl events isn't just Pro Bowl jerseys and such - it's also Super Bowl champ stuff. You can't sell those the week before the Super Bowl.

If they want to improve the Pro Bowl, you don't move it before the Super Bowl. You move it farther after the Super Bowl, and push back voting for the Pro Bowl as far as you can. You need to capitalize on the popularity of the Super Bowl as much as you can, and you can't do that before the Super Bowl. It doesn't work that way.

What the league's risking is an event that generates money and a way to further continue interest in the sport - at least continue interest enough to have people continue to buy merchandise, considering TV is out of the question.

44
by Lord K :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:53am

The point you are missing is that Aloha stadium is closed anyway, and there is no other facility on O'ahu or any other island that can host the game.

So we have to move it to the mainland anyway, if we are doing that we might as well try sticking in the gap week and seeing what happens. I agree with you in that it chances are won't be a success, but the small probability is high enough and the risk low enough (given that revenues of this game are tiny) that its worth trying.

When 2011 rolls along, Aloha stadium is open again, and if this experiment fails, then of course we go back. But at least the NFL has created data points to think about.