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On Tuesday, however, Abercrombie changed his tune when he crashed the NFL’s press conference and spoke in favor of keeping the game here. The governor said the state would like to continue hosting the game, “and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that comes about in a fashion that will make everybody very, very happy.”

A House economic development committee on Thursday will discuss establishing a Hawaii Sports Task Force to coordinate efforts to keep the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, as well attract other pro sporting events.

Last year’s Pro Bowl attracted 17,000 visitors to the state, generated $28.2 million in visitor spending and created $3.1 million in state taxes from people who traveled to attend the game.

Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney said the agency is still in discussion with the NFL for the future of the Pro Bowl beyond 2012.

“We have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the NFL and we look forward to continuing this relationship as well welcoming the NFL players, their families and all the fans for an exciting game on Sunday,” he said in a statement.

Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is no stranger to the islands. Bailey is making his 11th trip to the Pro Bowl.

“A lot of people wouldn’t come to Hawaii if not for the Pro Bowl,” Bailey said. “It would be disappointing if they moved it, but I have no say in it. If I did, I would say keep it here because I love it here.”

Perhaps no one is enjoying it more this week than Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl in a dozen seasons in the league.

“Twelve years,” he said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Hopefully many more to come. Every time somebody asks me how many times I’ve been here and I say it’s my first, they seem to be surprised and shocked. I’m just happy I got here, finally.”


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