Cardinals Mailbag: Could the Pro Bowl come to Arizona?

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This week’s question comes to us from Butch in Tempe. Submit your questions to us on Twitter @cover32_ari and mark it #32chat.

How likely is it the Pro Bowl could come to Arizona?–Butch in Tempe

The Pro Bowl could be coming to Arizona in 2015, according to multiple media outlets. Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk said that a league source was giving strong consideration to moving the game to Arizona. This would be done in an effort to raise the profile of the game, and, of course, the revenue involved.

I can see how this benefits multiple people.

First, the players are going to be in the same city as the Super Bowl and the throng of media that is there too. The Pro Bowl would also give fans a chance to see most of the best the league has to offer without having to haul halfway across the Pacific Ocean to do so.

Here in Arizona, it would also give the City of Glendale a chance to work out the kinks in its security protocols before Super Bowl XLIX happens a week later. The financial boost would be nice too but it’s hard to say exactly what that works out to in terms of dollars and cents.

As a fan, I would think I have a much better shot at getting Pro Bowl tickets than I would ever have for the Super Bowl. The odds would be much better of getting them and they wouldn’t cost me the rights to my first-born son, Jack. It could also be a potential selling point for season tickets for the Cardinals. Buy three games and get the Pro Bowl free, anyone?

Aloha Stadium seats 50,000 and hasn’t filled up in any of the last three seasons. University of Phoenix Stadium holds 63,400 in a base configuration and could be expanded to as many as 78,600 including standing-room-only tickets.

Now for the downside.

The Pro Bowl has been played in Hawaii every year since the bowl following the 1979 season. The lone exception to that was the game after the 2009 season played in Miami. This year the game could be in Arizona and the next year it could be in San Francisco, the site of Super Bowl L.

Where would you rather be in late January/early February–Phoenix and San Francisco or Honolulu? I’d be surprised if much of anyone didn’t pick Hawaii.

The potential change in venue has the potential to make more players want to shy away from the game. We’ve seen players skip the game for various reasons over the years. Not being able to go to Hawaii would almost certainly be one.

Then there is the giant 1200-pound gorilla in the middle of the room known as SB 1062. The bill, called the “Religious Freedom Bill”, has reached the desk of Governor Jan Brewer and she will make a decision on it before the end of the week.

The NFL, Arizona Cardinals and the Super Bowl Host Committee have all sounded off on the legislation, as posted on KPHO.com. KPHO is the CBS affiliate in Phoenix.

Here are their statements from the article:

The NFL’s Greg Aiello issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”

The Arizona Cardinals statement issued Monday:

“What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.”

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee’s statement reads:

“We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL’s values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.”

 

Keep in mind that there was a previous flap between the NFL and the State of Arizona about 20 years ago about legislation. The state didn’t recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. Voters rejected the measure on the ballot in 1992, leaving Arizona as the only state not to recognize it as a holiday. The NFL responded by taking the 1993 Super Bowl from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe and gave it to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

If the bill passes and becomes law, expect the NFL to not move the Pro Bowl to Arizona. The bigger question is whether Arizona might lose a Super Bowl for the second time.

The answer to the question is that it depends on how the legislation works. Even if it’s defeated, the mark against Arizona from a perception standpoint could be too much to have the Pro Bowl come here this year. Or ever.

We’ll have more on SB 1062 once a decision is made and how it potentially impacts sports should this bill become law.

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