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Pro Bowl Comes To University Of Phoenix Stadium

Posted Apr 9, 2014

NFL's all-star game will be held in Arizona before Super Bowl XLIX

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald goes out in a pass pattern during the Pro Bowl this past January in Hawaii. The Pro Bowl will be played in Arizona following the 2014 season.

The Pro Bowl this season will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium, a week before Super Bowl XLIX at the same venue, and it was noted that it will cost Cardinals’ stars like Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald a Hawaiian vacation.

Michael Bidwill chuckled at the notion.

“Hopefully they are eliminated from the Pro Bowl because they are participating in the Super Bowl,” the Cardinals’ team president said. “That’s the current plan.”

The NFL announced Wednesday its decision to play the league’s all-star game in Arizona, a possibility set in motion more than a year ago when Bidwill suggested it while Commissioner Roger Goodell was fishing for ideas on how to improve the Pro Bowl.

Kickoff will be 6 p.m. Arizona time (8 p.m. EST) Jan. 25 and will be televised on ESPN. The Super Bowl will be held Feb. 1.

A Pro Bowl bid made sense to Bidwill from the league side, to bring the game to another warm climate as was done when the Pro Bowl spent one January in Miami back in 2010 – the only other time since 1980 the game was played anywhere but Honolulu.

It made sense for Arizona, too, Bidwill figured.

“When you look at the game that has been played in Hawaii and the way it’s been broadcast, it turns into sort of a soft infomercial for Hawaiian tourism,” Bidwill said. “We hope this time around with the game in Arizona we are able to showcase Arizona and emphasize such an important industry for our state -- tourism.”

Tickets will be available first to Cardinals season ticket holders and annual Pro Bowl season ticket holders. Next season's 2016 game has already been scheduled to be played in Hawaii.

It’ll be the fifth major professional all-star game to be played in the Valley. The Major League Baseball all-star game was held in Phoenix in 2011. The Suns have hosted the NBA all-star game three times, in 1975, 1995 and 2009. The Coyotes once were supposed to have the NHL all-star game in 2006, but lost it after both the lockout and the Olympic break.

Many of the details of the game are yet to be announced. Super Bowl host committee chairman David Rousseau acknowledged his group will have to make a greater effort coordinating that time of year now with an extra game at the front of Super Bowl week, but that the benefits outweigh any issues.

“The whole reason we are doing the Super Bowl from our perspective is to put the Valley in the best light possible,” Rousseau said. “This will just extend that window. More cameras, more attention, more players, for a longer period.”

The Cardinals, after their 10-win season, featured four Pro Bowlers this year: cornerback Peterson, linebacker John Abraham, special teamer Justin Bethel and alternate wide receiver Fitzgerald. The game featured a new format in which, instead of teams being broken down by conference, were chosen by team “captains” Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders in a “draft” televised by NFL Network. Rice’s team won, 22-21.

Bidwill said the NFL continues to consider further changes to make the Pro Bowl viable going forward, although he declined to get into specifics of any improvements.

“There is certainly going to be an earlier start to all things NFL,” Rousseau said.

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