"Make a Hole Make it Wide"
Big Poppa's having a "No Politics" kinda day, I can't even muster up the gentleman thing to do and buy Senator Arlen Specter a beer, but hey I voted against him anyways, so buy your own damn beer Arlen.
As I flip through the Comcast TV schedule, I notice that tonight is NASCAR's All Star race in Charlotte, NC. A huge event for race fans, corporate sponsors and the SPEED Network. As I look down the empty Sam Adam's Boston Lager I so much enjoy, I wondered why doesn't the NFL be true to their fans and hold their All Star game mid-season like the rest of the American Professional sports world?
A quick NFL Pro Bowl history will show you that from 1950 through 1972, the game was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum. After 1972, the game was moved around until 1980 when it landed at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. It's been there ever since, with this past year as the exception. The 2010 Pro Bowl was held at Sun Life Stadium in sunny Miami, Florida. The game returns to Honolulu for the next two years.
Miami reaped the benefits have hosting both the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl this year and fans attending both in glorious fashion.
The NFL Pro Bowl is usually held the week after the Super Bowl, however the NFL moved the game to the week prior to the Super Bowl. Fans came in droves for the Pro Bowl and/or the Super Bowl, both the city of Miami and the NFL prospered from it.
Aloha Stadium only holds a mere 50,000 people, but Sun Life Stadium can hold up to 75,000+ football loving fans. So profits went up but that was not the only thing, so was the viewing audiences at home as ratings shot up 40%.
The one thing about the All Star games of the NHL, NBA and MLB is the venue changes each season and the fans get to enjoy the hospitality of that city. My town of Pittsburgh has hosted the NHL All Star game and two MLB All Star games and the town benefited from those events. So why not move the NFL Pro Bowl, and not just the city, but also the schedule?
The NFL already makes billions of dollars and with Player contracts rising every year, I'm positive the NFL wouldn't mind making some extra scratch, especially these days with the Collective Bargaining Agreement coming to an end this season.
The NFL takes pride in their "Bye week" system. Having 4-6 teams off for one week starting from week 4 through week 9, is supposedly to help teams recuperate injuries and get a breather, so they can make a run for the playoffs. This is bogus, it's really to extend the season by another week. If the NFL wanted teams to make a run for the playoffs, they should move the Pro Bowl to the end of October, half way through like the other Pro Sports.
If the NFL took the final two weeks of October, say the first weekend for the Pro Bowl, and then the second week give the league an entire break to rest. This would give teams two full weeks to recuperate injuries, fix roster positions, maybe make a trade, etc. Then everyone has a shot to make the second half of the season more exciting as everyone, including the Cleveland Browns, would have a shot at the playoffs.
Face it, many NFL Players skip out of the Pro Bowl anyway, due to injury or in the 2010 case, they are to play in the Super Bowl the following week. Fans got to see players like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees introduced, but not play. Many fans felt cheated, but those players still got the Pro Bowl contracted money, stuck around till half time and left.
And those NFL players that are injured and skip out, well the NHL has the best policy for that. No matter what, unless you're in a hospital, you will be in attendance for the fans, meet/greet, sign autographs, all that stuff, because if it wasn't for the fans, you might be playing in Southwest Russia.
Yes, the players were upset that the venue and date changed. Many Pro Bowl players take their families or other teammates along with them, like a mini vacation for a long season. But it's the fans that vote, it's the fans that buy the merchandise, and no matter what NY Jets Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes says, it is the fans the pay your salary. Without the fan support, many of the NFL players might be playing in the Canadian Football League. Even Donald Trump realized that once you lose the fans, you lose the league (After all, Trump killed the USFL in the 1980's).
Also the fact that many of the Pro Bowl tickets go to corporations like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Nike, and else, many fans do not travel to Honolulu to watch the game.
A round trip flight from the East Coast to Honolulu can cost around $850 for one person, not to mention hotel, food, and the cheapest Pro Bowl ticket for 2011 is roughly $125 dollars. It could cost one person an easy $1,500 for the weekend.
Aloha Stadium only holds 50,000 people. But say the game is moved to Fed Ex Field, home of the Washington Redskins? That stadium holds 91, 704 screaming fans. So if you live in Cleveland, Ohio, a flight from Hopkins Airport is roughly $134 for the end of October, Pro Bowl ticket cost at $125 dollars, food, hotel, etc.. and you could save about $800. Of course this is all for one fan.
The NFL could get more people to attend, the cities would make some much needed money in these dreary days as well. For example, Honolulu rakes in roughly $28 million for the NFL Pro Bowl weekend.
Charlotte, North Carolina is the home for this year's NASCAR All Star race. The Lowe's Motor Speedway holds 165,000 seats, plus room for another 40,000 infield seats and tickets range from $39 to $75. A round trip plane ticket costs roughly $139, plus hotel, food, and merchandise total cost for one person is roughly $400. In this one weekend, Charlotte can make around $75 million for an All Star event!
Cities pay large money to become hosts of big league events and other convention entities, why not spread the NFL wealth Mr. Commissioner and move the Pro Bowl so fans from all over can enjoy it up close and personal