|Stadium||Aloha Stadium (1975-1997, 2006-2008, 2020-present)|
|Location||Honolulu, Hawaii (1960-1997, 2006-2008, 2020-present)|
|Previous stadiums||Honolulu Stadium (1960-1974)|
War Memorial Stadium (1998-2005)
|Previous locations||Wailuku, Hawaii (1998-2005)|
|Aina (East) vs. Kai (West) (Kai 23-7)|
The Hula Bowl is a post-season college football all-star game held annually in Hawaii, usually in January. First played in 1947, it was held annually until 2008. It was revived following the 2019 season, with the first Hula Bowl in 12 years played on January 26, 2020, at Aloha Stadium in the Halawa district of Honolulu. During its history, the game has also been played at Honolulu Stadium, and at War Memorial Stadium on the island of Maui.
In late 1946, the first Hula Bowl was organized by Paul Stupin and Mackay Yanagisawa as the Hula Bowl All-Star Football Classic. When the inaugural game was played on January 5, 1947, the teams were composed of mainland college players (the "Southern California Rose Bowl Stars", led by UCLA quarterback Ernie Case) pitted against a local team of graduates of Leilehua (the "Leialums"), a local high school in Wahiawa, Hawaii--the mainland team won, 34-7. The teams played a two-game series every January until 1951, when the format was changed to allow National Football League (NFL) players to join the Hawaiian all-stars, in an effort to create a more competitive environment. From 1960 onward, the game featured only collegiate players, and game results are listed in NCAA records. In its later format, the Hula Bowl pitted an all-star team of players who attended college in the eastern United States against a team of players from the western United States. Players were rostered into Aina and Kai teams, the Hawaiian words for land and water (designating "East" and "West", respectively).
The game was originally played in Honolulu Stadium in Honolulu through the 1974 playing, then moved to Aloha Stadium in neighboring Halawa. In 1997, the then-mayor of Maui County, Linda Lingle, obtained authorization to spend $1.2 million to improve War Memorial Stadium in the town of Kahului on the island of Maui, which then hosted the game for the 1998 through 2005 playings. However, due to poor attendance and reduced revenue, the Hula Bowl returned to Oahu for its 2006 game and stayed at Aloha Stadium through the 2008 playing.
The game has mostly been played in January, following the conclusion of the college football bowl season, which allows players who competed in bowl games with their collegiate teams to participate. The game has been held in December once (1999) and in February twice (2002 and 2003).
For many years, the Hula Bowl was distinguished from a similar event, the Senior Bowl, by playing by collegiate rules rather than professional rules, and by being amateur, which at one point was very important for those wishing to remain eligible to compete in collegiate or other amateur sports. At one point the longest-running sporting event in Hawaii, it was considered a premier venue to launch professional careers in the NFL.[according to whom?]
On July 1, 2006, it was announced that the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) would end its ten-year relationship with the Hula Bowl due to "philosophical differences" over the future plans for the game, including proposed changes for the 2007 game — such as reintroducing the "Hawaiian Islands versus Mainland" matchup used from 1947 to 1959. University of Hawaii head coach June Jones expressed a willingness to coach a potential Hawaiian Islands team, which would have a mix of Hawaiian and Polynesian players and, bowl organizers hope, would draw more fans to the game. The Hula Bowl had also discussed the idea of allowing junior status players to participate in the game and bringing over college football players from Japan, something the game had done in the recent past. Game officials also discussed awarding a national "Hula Bowl Player of the Week" to college players during the regular season; the winning players would have been invited to play in the Hula Bowl and been able to direct a $1,000 donation to a charity in their state.
After the January 2008 playing, the bowl remained dormant. Organizers searched "for opportunities to reintroduce and reimagine the historic bowl game", and in November 2016, announced their intent to restart the game in North Carolina in January 2018. However, in March 2017, additional news reports indicated that a revival of the game was unlikely, as a key supporter of the proposal, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, left office at the start of that year.
On October 29, 2019, it was announced that the Hula Bowl would be revived; the 2020 edition was played at Aloha Stadium on January 26, 2020. It featured "NCAA college football players from all divisions, along with international players".
In 2019, Hula Bowl executive director Rich Miano announced the creation of a Hall of Fame, with an online ballot from which the top vote-getters would become the inaugural inductees, with results to be announced in January 2020. Selected as the inaugural inductees were:
In a mid-1990s storyline in the comic strip Funky Winkerbean, Harry Dinkle and the Marching Scapegoats perform at the Hula Bowl.