The Rose Bowl in Pasadena is in the midst of its biggest year for special events since 1994, when the World Cup came to the United States.
The bowl started a busy six-month schedule during the Fourth of July holiday with the Xbox 360-sponsored launch of the "NCAA Football 2010" video game at its annual holiday fireworks celebration. Also on the stadium's schedule are two major international soccer matches, a U2 concert in October and college football's Bowl Championship Series championship game in January. That's in addition to annual events including the UCLA football season and New Year's Day Rose Bowl game.
"It's not a coincidence that the Rose Bowl is having such an excellent year," said Jeff Marks, chief operating officer for Premier Partnerships, a sports marketing consulting company. "They have a business model that allows event operators to come in and be great partners and make money."
The packed calendar means that sponsorship revenue has held steady. Other stadiums haven't enjoyed the same prosperity. The 70-year-old Orange Bowl in Miami was torn down last year because it was no longer financially viable. The Cotton Bowl game in Dallas is no longer played at the Cotton Bowl because that stadium couldn't compete.
Thanks to the BCS game in January, all of the stadium's sponsors have stayed on, said Darryl Dunn, general manager of the Rose Bowl.
"We have been fortunate that we didn't have any contracts expire in 2009 because of the BCS game," Dunn said.
Scheduling the events was difficult because the venue had to work around the UCLA football season. The Oct. 25 U2 concert was a special challenge: Stadium management needed two weeks after that show to get the stadium ready for a UCLA game. As a result, they were barely able to squeeze the concert into the schedule.
To keep the schedule going strong into the future, the Rose Bowl Commission is looking at ways to upgrade the facility. Dunn is completing plans to renovate the 87-year-old facility. He's called for input from the local community and its main tenant, UCLA, and has hired a consultant who worked on the renovations of Boston's Fenway Park baseball stadium.
The plan calls for premium seating and other enhancements such as a new scoreboard and upgraded food vending. Estimated costs are $160 million, but there is no financing available.
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