Editor's pick: Originally published Dec. 22.
The NFL might think about keeping the Pro Bowl on the mainland.
The Pro Bowl will make its latest adventure outside Hawaii next month when it heads to Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The move back to a more centralized location is setting record demand on the secondary ticket market.
On TicketIQ, a ticket search engine that pulls in data and tickets from over 90% of the secondary ticket market, the average resale price for 2017 Pro Bowl tickets is now $272. That makes it the most expensive Pro Bowl the company has tracked since 2010. It eclipses the 2015 game in Arizona, where tickets owned a $243 average. Fans looking for the cheapest tickets for this year's game can find them from $82 each.
Across the five Pro Bowls held in Honolulu since 2010, tickets averaged $95.
Resale demand may be rising for the Pro Bowl, but NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and MLS All-Star games are historically pricier, and even with this year's record-breaking demand, Pro Bowl prices are much less.
After a 30-year stretch in Honolulu, the Pro Bowl returned to the lower 48 states in 2009, showcasing the league's top talent at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. The league again broke from Honolulu six years later after opting for the University of Phoenix Stadium for 2015's game.
The Pro Bowl is the most undervalued All-Star event in North American professional sports. Consider the viewership the game has received in recent years. Though last year's game dropped 12% in ratings and 9% in viewership, it still drew more viewers than the NBA All-Star Game. Despite the decline, it is still a lucrative event.
Though it has received a fair share of criticism for its lack of seriousness, and some NFL observers have suggested scrapping it, the Pro Bowl attracts millions of viewers each year. The addition of new skilled-based challenges this season shouldn't hurt its appeal.
A return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format may be helping drive those prices. In recent years, the NFL experimented with different formats, including holding a player draft.
The AFC defeated the NFC last year 49-27. High scores have been typical for the game.
Where this year's game lands in viewership ratings remains to be seen, but the move to the mainland seems like a good one.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor.