|Sidewalk barricade at the Ihilani |
J.Smith photo (c) 2011
That's the good news out at Ko Olina, the sprawling resort on Hawaii's western shore where we have settled in for a spell.
Those barricades and security checkpoints go up prior to Pro Bowl as the players, their families and friends begin arriving at the J.W. Marriott Ihilani, that shares a portion of the Ko Olina landscape. The NFL - according to the local paper - takes over the entire hotel out here. A practice field is set up next door to it (you can see a goal post from the roadway). The game was played Sunday for those of you who missed it.
The barricades, I guess, are to keep players from being pestered by fans. I'm one of the first to admit I wouldn't know a player without helmet and pads if I were to walk into him - they look pretty normal out of uniform.
Anyway, the barricades came down so we 'other' guests are now allowed access along the entire beachwalk and into the Ihilani ;you aren't allowed in the secure area without a reservation for a restaurant or spa treatment while they are there.
Barricades are just one impact of the game. Since we are here, I thought I'd tell you a bit more about its impact -- this information comes from a week's worth of reports in the local paper The Star Advertiser
Pro Bowl is big bucks over here. Hawaii pays the NFL $4 million to come to Honolulu for the game and its related hoopla.
- In 2009 - the last time it was played here - it brought 18,000 visitors who pumped more than $30 million into the economy and tax coffers; so maybe $4 million was a small price to pay.
- The week prior to ProBowl is chockablock full of autograph signings, appearances by players, parades, block parties, charity visits -- and this year ticket giveaways.
- The players and their families and friends rent high end accommodations while here, so last year's absence was a costly one according to news reports. The NFL reportedly takes over the entire Ihilani (one article reported that Michael Vick was in the Penthouse).
- Several high end beach home rental companies say the increased rentals are up this year. High end resorts in downtown Honolulu reported boosts as well.