What the NFL Pro Bowl Departure Meant to Hawaii

The Huge Loss of Revenue Hit Those Who Need it Most the Hardest

Aaron DeBee

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The absence of the NFL Pro Bowl is no less painful to the state of Hawaii than it was when it happened for the first time two years ago. Every city relishes opportunities to host large, high-profile events. For a geographically isolated state whose economy relies primarily on visitation, though, such events can be particularly impactful.

It might seem easy to dismiss the loss of revenue enjoyed by the posh hotels and luxury accommodations that we tend to associate with Hawaii, but beneath Honolulu’s shiny corporate tourism veneer is a population desperately reliant on income from external sources.

“The real value of the game, though, was in who it brought that money to.”

Past the sun-baked tourists and swaying palms of Waikiki, between the glinting glass giants that define Honolulu’s skyline, my young family and I would pass on our way out to Aloha Stadium nearly every weekend. My son’s tanned toes would swing as my daughter sang songs to him and practiced her hula hand motions. They’d cheer as we pulled into the stadium parking lot to enjoy the state’s largest open-air market.

Before us lay a giant ring of hundreds of vendor booths operated by Hawaiian locals attempting to scratch out a living in the state’s forbidding economy by hawking puka shell necklaces, Hawaiian print clothing, and coconut water still in the coconut. In the background loomed the venue for Hawaii’s most profitable annual entertainment event since 1979.

If you’ve never lived in Hawaii or another very remote location, it can be difficult to appreciate how isolating that type of distance can be. During a portion of the time that I lived there, there was a state-wide shortage of toilet paper and other necessities because one major shipping company went on strike.

Compared to many mainland locations, it can be inconvenient, costly, and time-consuming to get both products and people to Hawaii. This drives…

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Aaron DeBee

Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor, veteran, Top Rated on Upwork, former Medium Top Writer in Humor, Feminism, Culture, Sports, NFL, etc.