You don't have to look hard to find the advantages of playing here.
Any player from Maryland or Washington will talk about how dreamy it feels to spend Christmas week in Hawaii looking forward to playing a football game that will be televised to Japan, Mexico and Peoria, Ill.
But for the bowl and its backers, all is not paradise. The Aloha Bowl is expected to become a major postseason attraction within the next few years, yet the inaugural game, to be played Saturday at 7 p.m. EST in Aloha Stadium, faces some obstacles. Bowl officials say they are expecting only about 35,000, which is 15,000 short of capacity.
Here, on the island of Oahu, there has been some resistance to the idea of a football game on Christmas Day. The cofounder of the game, Mackay Yanagisawa, said today he probably will lose money this year.
"There are some obstacles, but it's that way with anything new," said Yanagisawa, who also founded the Hula Bowl 37 years ago. This game has been in the works since 1977, when it was approved by the NCAA as the Pineapple Bowl.
"First, people have got to get used to having football on Christmas Day," Yanagisawa said. "Some of my friends have said, 'Oh, we can't go to a football game on Christmas Day.' I think they'll get used to it though. As of now, we'll keep the Christmas Day date, but we'll give it further study. We'll lose some money this year, but I'm not worried about it. We're going to be all right."
Ray Nagel, director of athletics at the University of Hawaii and the other founder, said he thinks the game will be warmly received "once people realize there's nothing to do on Christmas afternoon."
Yanagisawa, 70, has been in sports promotion for 50 years. He knows there's reason for optimism.
NBC-TV wanted to air the game this year but said the contest would have to be moved to 4 p.m. Eastern time. That would be 11 a.m. here and would upset Christmas present opening for too many Hawaiians.
Lenny Klompus, president of Metrosports, which is syndicating the game to 120 television stations nationally, plus ESPN, said he is spending "more money than I probably should" trying to make sure the first Aloha Bowl is viewed as a success, especially by the other bowls and the television industry.
And as Nagel said, "The key thing is television dollars." Saturday's game will be seen on WOR-TV in New York and WGN in Chicago, two of the major independent stations in the nation.
Bowl officials love to say that a person watching television in Peoria on Christmas Day can see the game on WOR, WGN and ESPN. "He won't be able to get away from us," Klompus said. But Metrosports will barely break even, and could lose money on the game.
Even the matchups were determined largely by television. "The concern of having an East versus West game for television coverage was very important," Nagel said. "We needed a school that could attract the Eastern Seaboard viewers. People are always comparing East-West teams, anyway, so now we've got a runner-up from the best conference in the East (Maryland of the ACC) and a runner-up in the best of the West (Washington of the Pac-10)."
Each school will receive $300,000 plus 75 percent of gross receipts.
Maryland practiced this morning for the first time here, and showed the expected effects of Monday's 12-hour flight and five-hour time change.
"This was not a good practice," said Coach Bobby Ross. "We didn't throw the ball well at all. They were tired and didn't concentrate well."
Said quarterback Boomer Esiason: "We needed to get this practice out of our system."