Faulconer, Gloria Announce Plans for Balboa Park

Centennial theme is to promote, celebrate and elevate park

San Diego - Today Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria joined key civic and business leaders to announce plans for a Balboa Park centennial celebration that seeks to promote, celebrate and elevate the park for 2015 and beyond.

"The 2015 celebration is going to be about getting San Diegans to fall in love with Balboa Park all over again and making park improvements that will last for generations to come," Faulconer said. "We will celebrate 100 years of Balboa Park and then, by working together, focus our efforts on making Balboa Park magnificent for the next 100 years."

Gloria added, "Together we are committed to moving forward with a celebration that is achievable, manageable and is good for the park and our City."

The City began planning a scaled-down event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park earlier this month after a years-long effort by Balboa Park Celebration Inc. failed to materialize.

Specifically, the new centennial celebration will feature four signature events at Balboa Park, including the 2014 and 2015 December Nights events as the opening and closing ceremonies. The other two events are a spring and fall celebration of all things unique to San Diego, such as craft beer, biotech and the arts.

The Balboa Park Conservancy, which already manages Balboa Park December Nights, will organize the events with the City.

"The Balboa Park Conservancy is pleased to help the City bring San Diego a celebration of Balboa Park in 2015," said Ray Ellis, a board member of the Balboa Park Conservancy. "The Conservancy has experience managing December Nights and we're looking forward to working with other park stakeholders and the community to determine the best way to expand on that event while being mindful of the time and funding parameters we're facing."

While those major events draw a lot of attention, Balboa Park is home to more than 1,000 programs, exhibitions and events every year. The City will partner with the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership to highlight the many wonderful programs the park's cultural institutions have planned for 2015.

"We look forward to showcasing all that Balboa Park has to offer and remind San Diegans that there is something fun, interesting and exciting going on in the park every day of the year," said Deborah Klochko, board president of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership.

The 2015 celebration will also include several major upgrades to Balboa Park. SDG&E has generously agreed to fund and install energy-efficient lighting as well as decorative lighting in the park's historic core. This will serve to activate Balboa Park at night and reduce operating costs.

"SDG&E is proud of our long history with Balboa Park, as one of the few existing San Diego businesses that was around when Balboa Park celebrated the 1915 Panama-California Exposition," said Frank Urtasun, regional vice president of external relations for SDG&E. "We are pleased to continue playing a key role in lighting Balboa Park through collaboration with the City of San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego to re-energize the Balboa Park centennial celebration with state-of-the art LED architectural lighting."

Other upgrades to Balboa Park include the City working with horticulture groups on expanding and enhancing the park's landscaping and a request for proposals to bring quality food options to the park.

The City plans to work with the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) on a long-term strategic marketing plan to establish Balboa Park as a tourist and cultural destination that attracts visitors from nearby regional markets. The TMD has set aside $2 million for this ambitious project

"Everybody in San Diego knows about the embarrassment of riches that Balboa Park has to offer to visitors," said Bill Evans, board member of the Tourism Marketing District. "It'll be our job to make sure that all of the southwestern United States knows about it too."

This framework for the 2015 centennial celebration was crafted based on the vast amount of public input that has been collected regarding Balboa Park during the past few years. This will be a celebration by San Diegans and for San Diegans.

City staff and the Balboa Park Conservancy will be providing quarterly updates to the Balboa Park Committee on the progress of the celebration planning. Those meetings will also provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on the plans and provide new ideas of their own.

The 2015 celebration officially kicks off with December Nights on Dec. 5, 2014

CONTACT: Craig Gustafson at (619) 453-9880 or [email protected]