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.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that the renovation will happen by 2014," Dunn said. That deadline is important because it is the next time that the stadium will host the BCS championship game.

Hockey Fest

Now that most of L.A. Live has been completed, local teams are looking at ways to take advantage of the downtown complex. The Los Angeles Kings will launch its first hockey festival at L.A. Live during the last weekend in August. The three-day event will kick off with a concert Aug. 28 and will feature three days of hockey-related events. The team expects to draw 3,000 to 4,000 people to the event.

"It's a shift in strategy," said Jonathan Lowe, senior director of marketing for the Kings. "We used to have a few small events for season ticket holders during the summer. Now we want to provide a great event and get people thinking and talking about us earlier than ever before."

Highlights will include public autograph sessions with current and former team members, including the famed Triple Crown Line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer, one of the highest scoring line combinations in National Hockey League history. On the plaza, fans will have a chance to practice some hockey skills. At Nokia Theatre, the team is scheduling a speaker series with commentators and former players.

TV Time

Now that Muscle Flex Inc. has won a trademark dispute with World Wrestling Entertainment, the Beverly Hills company is beginning production of infomercials promoting its health and fitness products.

Muscle Flex was founded several years ago by pitchman Danny Alex with the trademark "In the Raw." But when WWE tried to trademark its "Raw" brand in Canada, it challenged Muscle Flex. The Canadian trademark office found in favor of Muscle Flex earlier this year.

"The dispute held us up because we had to take resources and put it to the legal process, but it increased our determination to launch the company because it let us work on something that we believed in," Alex said.

Alex expects to begin production of his first infomercial for Muscle Flex's Vitamin Buddy, a pill case that comes with a built-in timer to remind the user when its time to take medication. It will then begin production on a second infomercial for its Muscle Flex home fitness machine.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at dnusbaum@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.

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