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AZ state budget includes money to pursue 2015 Pro Bowl

pro bowlA $2 million appropriation for tourism promotion in the Arizona budget, as proposed by the House and Senate, is expected to be used to help court or host the National Football League’s Pro Bowl in 2015.

Barry Aarons, a lobbyist for the Arizona Office of Tourism that’s receiving the appropriation, said it’s his understanding that the funding — requested by Gov. Jan Brewer — would be spent on helping secure and fund the seed money necessary to host the Pro Bowl. The game typically is held the week before or after the Super Bowl, which Glendale is hosting in 2015.

“There was an opportunity for Arizona to bid for the Pro Bowl next year,” Aarons told the Arizona Capitol Times. “The consensus was, if we’ve got a chance to get something like the Pro Bowl, which is another game at the University of Phoenix Stadium and brings in tens of thousands of people, that makes sense and this is worthwhile.”

Several media reports have indicated the NFL is choosing between Hawaii, where the bowl has been held in recent years, and Arizona for the 2015 game.

The private sector is “tapped damned near dry” after being asked to raise the money necessary to host the Super Bowl itself, Aarons said, requiring the state to step in.

The Pro Bowl “is a very legitimate, small investment for a potentially large payback,” Aarons said.

Andrew Wilder, Brewer’s spokesman, said “the funds are simply intended for promoting Arizona as a world-class tourist destination and attracting new visitors to experience this great state.”

Glendale could benefit greatly from hosting what Councilman Gary Sherwood described as the preseason to the big game since the city won’t receive much by way of tax dollars from hosting Super Bowl XLIX itself.

Host cities routinely give the NFL, which as a nonprofit pays no federal taxes, a break from paying state and local tax dollars. The state of New Jersey lost $8 million in revenues by suspending sales taxes on tickets and parking to host the 2014 Super Bowl, according to The Star-Ledger.

Glendale must also pick up the cost of increased security for the Super Bowl to the tune of roughly $2 million, city officials estimate.

Sherwood said it’s his understanding that the Pro Bowl would be treated much like an Arizona Cardinals playoff game and the city would not be asked to give up tax revenues as it has for the Super Bowl.

Attendance at the Pro Bowl, historically held in Hawaii, has been waning in recent years, Sherwood said, “so maybe going with the host city with the Super Bowl, where so many of the local folks don’t get a chance to score a ticket, because it’s mostly a corporate event — well the plus there would be they would get to go to the Pro Bowl.”

The NFL revamped the Pro Bowl format this season by using a pickup-game draft to choose teams, and was rescheduled to the week prior to the Super Bowl in 2010, when Miami hosted both games.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that no decision has been made on next season’s Pro Bowl, but “we expect that decision to be made relatively soon.”

Sherwood said he’s confident the NFL will choose to host the game in Glendale.

“It’s more than likely they’ll announce it,” Sherwood said. “We don’t have anything official, but we’re guessing we’re getting it.”

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