Last year, only three-quarters of Los Angeles Dodgers season ticket holders signed on for the postseason package. But things have changed. This year, the number was up to 90 percent.

Is that because the fans are more optimistic about the Dodgers' prospects? Maybe, but it could be because the team's ticketing office offered a choice for each round: division round games, league championship games and World Series. Last year, fans had to buy tickets to every possible post-season home game in advance.

"We wanted as many people as possible to take advantage of the playoffs," said David Siegel, director of ticket sales. He said that the added costs of the post-season games can prevent companies and fans from buying them.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are asking season ticket holders to renew for 2010 earlier than in the past. The team decided to keep season ticket prices the same as they have been since 2008. The Dodgers sell a total of 20,000 seats to full-season ticket holders.

The Dodgers are also offering a new payment for renewals. Ticket holders can pay in five monthly installments, with 20 percent due each month from October to March, but no payment due in December.

Regular season attendance at Dodger Stadium was up slightly in 2009. The Dodgers drew 3.7 million fans in 2009, up 31,116 fans compared with 2008. The team had the highest attendance in Major League Baseball. Last year, the New York Yankees were the top draw, but the New York team opened a new stadium with a smaller capacity in 2009.

The Dodgers now have the largest stadium in baseball, and that allows the team to offer bargain rates for some seats.

"We are fortunate to have the biggest stadium," Siegel said. "We can still offer a $4-per-game season seat or kids pricing."

Driving Force

Rookie Nascar driver Kevin Conway is the first in the association to be sponsored by Monrovia-based Biotab Neutraceuticals Inc., a manufacturer of male and female enhancement products under the Extenze brand. Conway had been a driver with Joe Gibbs Racing before moving to the Extenze Racing team that launched earlier this month.

"We realized how big the Extenze brand was and saw a tremendous opportunity to take the brand into a mainstream sport and create a highly effective motorsports marketing program within Nascar," Conway said.

To date, Extenze has sold more than 1 billion pills that it claims are all-natural dietary supplements that provide sexual enhancement. Sales have topped $150 million annually. The products are advertised mostly on late-night cable shows. The company has a $68 million television advertising budget for 2009 and expects to increase that to $75 million next year.

In the past, the company's sales were limited to television orders, but now it can be found in chains such as CVS, Rite Aid, GNC and Walgreens. It is even available at 7-Eleven.

"When 7-Eleven started carrying Extenze, we made the decision to enter sporting events," said Robert Winter, Extenze chief executive.

Doll Face

Malibu-based Jakks Pacific Inc. scored big in 2008 when it landed the global licensing agreement to produce Ultimate Fighting Championship-branded action figures based on UFC athletes. After more than a year of research and development, Jakks is finally putting the figures into retail stores.

"When we first introduced the product, retailers didn't want it," said Jeremy Padawer, Jakks senior vice president of marketing. "The market has changed dramatically as the sport has grown in popularity."

The sport became more popular after the league implemented rules that led broadcasters to allow the matches on pay-per-view and cable television. Ratings have grown consistently. This year, UFC events will account for seven of the top 10 pay-per-view programs.

For Jakks, the UFC product lines goes into stores as the company goes through a transition with action figures. It has rights for World Wrestling Entertainment action figures through this year, but those will be transferred to Mattel Inc. starting in 2010. However, Jakks expects the UFC brand to be a strong replacement. The company expects most major retailers to carry the figures and has an aggressive shipping schedule for the line.

"We're reaching out to retailers in Europe, Asia and Latin America," Padawer said.

Korean Baseball

South Korean baseball fans packed Dodger Stadium earlier this year for the World Baseball Classic final as they watched a team of Japanese players defeat their Korean team.

Tapping into this audience, El Segundo-based DirecTV Group Inc. has launched a national subscriber channel that will broadcast all Korean professional league baseball games as well as a variety of other Korean programming. The channel debuted Oct. 15 with a live broadcast of the Korean Championship League Series.

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

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