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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Top Pro Bowl seats $200 in NFL 'premium' plan

By Bart Asato
Advertiser Staff Writer

The National Football League announced yesterday it will introduce premium seating, and cut ticket prices for other seats, for next year's Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

The game, to be played Feb. 3, 2002, features all-star teams from the American and National conferences.

The premium seats, which the NFL calls "club" seating, will be sold for $200 each. The NFL will block off about 2,500 of them in the stadium's loge level. The price of more than 21,000 other seats will be reduced.

The NFL will handle ticket distribution this year instead of Aloha Stadium, although the stadium will remain one of the main ticket outlets.

"There are a number of reasons for the changes," said Jim Steeg, NFL senior vice president of special events. "We hope to provide improved access to tickets for citizens of Hawai'i, as well as the many fans visiting from the Mainland. There was a lot of frustration by a lot of people who tried to get tickets."

Steeg said the NFL decided to take control of the ticket sales because in the past there were 290 accounts who controlled 11,300 Pro Bowl seats, an average of 39 tickets per account. Accounts included individuals as well as ticket brokers.

"The black market was greater than the legitimate market," Steeg said. "The changes will help us establish a direct relationship with ticket holders."

The new club seating will require adjustments by those who previously had tickets in the loge area, and who will be given priority to purchase club seats.

Information on the new ticket policy will be sent to longtime Pro Bowl ticket holders this week.

The NFL hopes to announce details for ticket sales and locations in the next few weeks. Ticket information also will be available at nfl.com.

According to the NFL, the club seats will offer fans special parking and gate entrances, concession service at their seats, $25 in concession credit, and gifts such as a bobble-head doll and collectible football card.

It also will include discounts to the NFL Pro Bowl tailgate party and free tickets to the NFL Experience in Waikiki.

"Every team in the NFL has club level seating," Steeg said. "We found fans like the amenity."

Other seats would cost $20 to $75.

For the 2001 Pro Bowl, end zone tickets cost $30 to $35. Those tickets will cost $20 in 2002.

Steeg said the new ticket prices give the NFL about an average $1 per ticket increase.

"We're not trying to change the gross, just distribute it differently," he said.

The NFL surveyed other major sports and Steeg said the $20 Pro Bowl tickets will be a bargain. He said the NBA charges $100-$150 for an all-star game ticket, Major League Baseball $175 (not including $75 for the home-run derby) and NHL $187-$257.

Last week the NFL announced plans for a marketing campaign to spark interest in the game.

"We are starting a grass-roots effort," Steeg said. "Our focus is to increase the awareness of the Pro Bowl in Hawai'i on its own, and not just the game after the Super Bowl. We want to help attract visitors and promote Hawai'i."

Although the Pro Bowl has sold out 21 of the 22 years it has been in Hawai'i, television ratings have been declining.

Also, the NFL draws about one tenth of the number of fan votes as Major League Baseball's All-Star game. The Pro Bowl squads are determined in voting by fans, NFL players and coaches.

The NFL drew 880,000 fan votes, compared with 10.5 million for Major League Baseball.

The NFL said it would expand voting for the Pro Bowl through Blockbuster Video stores, increase advertising and work with Hawai'i tourism officials to sell discount travel packages.

This year, 50,113 Pro Bowl tickets were distributed. The AFC defeated the NFC, 38-17.