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NFL QB Challenge funds reallocated

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Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003 12:00 am

Since the NFL Quarterback Challenge is being moved to Los Angeles for 2003, what has happened to the $300,000 the Hawaii Tourism Authority budgeted for the nationally televised event?

The HTA, funded by the state and hotel room taxes to promote Hawai'i as a tourism destination, sponsored the nationally-televised football skills competition the past several years.

Last year, in their 2002-2003 fiscal year budget, the HTA placed a $300,000 price tag on their support for the football event held on Kaua'i at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu'e. Title sponsor DirectTV decided late last year to support moving the event to Los Angles, causing the NFL to move locations at the last minute, and ending the need for state funding for the event.

Muriel Anderson, HTA festivals coordinator, said in reallocating the funds, the HTA board looked at events that would be "more of a parallel with what the NFL Quarterback Challenge would accomplish for Kaua'i."

"We put together a proposal to the HTA when we found out the Quarterback Challenge wouldn't be happening, to try to see if we could retarget some of the Quarterback Challenge money to Kauai," Nadine Nakamura, the HTA's Kaua'i board member, said.

Those involved in deciding how to divide the QB Challenge funding included County Office of Economic Development Director Vida Mossman and Economic Development Specialist for tourism Nalani Brun; Kaua'i Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho; Mayor Bryan Baptiste, Poipu Beach Resort Association Director Margy Parker; and Fred Atkins of the Kauai Visitor Marketing Committee.

The HTA board provided $140,000 in funding for a variety of Kaua'i-based events. The group asked for $200,000.

In mid-January, $100,000 was pledged to the ProBowl Ohana Committee for help in organizing six football clinics for school children, one on Maui and Kaua'i and two each on O'ahu and the Big Island. Pro footballers are expected to hold a clinic today on Kaua'i.

A new event receiving funding is the Kauai World Challenge, a one-man canoe race being backed by $30,000 of the HTA funds. The HTA and Kauai Visitors Bureau are partnering to secure national television coverage of the competition.

The KVB is budgeted to receive $40,000 for convention and meeting marketing funds, as well as to promote Kaua'i as a location for corporate incentive meetings.

The popular Lihu'e Airport and Nawiliwili Harbor visitor greeting program is getting $20,000.

Lastly, the KVB will receive $50,000 for general marketing purposes, meant to "supplant the exposure that Kaua'i would have received through the Quarterback Challenge," said Nakamura.

One program not receiving the funds is the first-ever Kauai Music Festival, which has a budget of about $300,000 and is aimed at educating and promoting songwriters, according to festival coordinator Richard McSheehy. The event will rely on corporate sponsors and attendance fees to pay for operating costs. Promoters hope the music festival will be as big as the Maui Writers Conference, which will receive $75,000 from HTA in 2003.

"We would certainly welcome discussions with them in the future," Anderson said of the first-time songwriters' event.

Non-sporting, non-television "product development" events that attract visitors and also benefit residents are already being funded through grants from HTA and the County of Kaua'i, Anderson said. The events include: The Coconut Festival, Kaua'i Polynesian Festival, Mokihana Festival and Waimea Town Celebration, with each event receiving more than $20,000 during the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

At its Jan. 23 meeting in Honolulu, the HTA also tabled a $60,000 proposal to create a Kaua'i visitor industry plan. The plan would define where Kaua'i wants the visitor industry to grow on this island, and find ways to prioritize assets we have on the island, as a model for the other counties, Nakamura said.

The $60,000 has not been set for other projects, but the board has planned a separate discussion on the issue, Nakamura said.

Other local tourism initiatives, including community-based events, some rodeos and smaller cultural events could be funded, Anderson said.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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