City Council approves $450K for Balboa Park centennial celebrati - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City Council approves $450K for Balboa Park centennial celebration

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with a group putting together Balboa Park's centennial celebration and gave the organization $450,000 in seed money.

The organizers, Balboa Park Celebration Inc., wanted the MOU to begin fundraising and detailed planning for the festivities, scheduled to run throughout 2015. They estimate their events will double the annual number of park visits.

"We're going to have a big party, and everyone is welcome," said Councilman Todd Gloria.

A study by the Convention and Visitors Bureau found that a series of park-related events could add as many as 600,000 hotel-room nights, creating an economic impact of $661 million and generating $9.4 million in hotel-room tax revenue for the city.

Balboa Park opened in 1915 to host the Panama-California Exhibition.

"It really is a celebration of what San Diego has become and also a celebration of what San Diego will be," said Nikki Clay, co-chair of the organization.

Gerry Braun, of the mayor's office, told council members that the MOU is a broad framework that recognizes the group as the sole event organizer, and gives it and the city certainty as to roles and responsibilities. Balboa Park Celebration Inc. assumes all financial liability for the event, according to Braun.

Passage of the $450,000 payment to the group also makes iteligible for a pair of $300,000 grants -- one from the city's Tourism Marketing District and the other from a combination of area philanthropic organizations.

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