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City Makes Deal For Balboa Park Centennial Celebrations

The City Council's Rules Committee unanimously approved an agreement today with a group planning celebrations for Balboa Park's 100th anniversary in 2015.

The nonprofit Balboa Park Celebration Inc., also known as the 2015 Committee, sought the memorandum of understanding to help it move forward with fundraising, event schedules and volunteer opportunities.

The proposed deal, pending full City Council approval, sets the various responsibilities for the committee, including that it accept the venture's financial risks.

Balboa Park came into being as part of San Diego hosting the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. In the years since, it has grown up with museums, the San Diego Zoo and a golf course, among other public amenities.

City and tourism officials hope that events will be scheduled through the year to locals and tourists, and to tout the region's economic benefits.

A study by the Convention and Visitors Bureau found that a major promotion could help add as many as 600,000 hotel room nights to park-related centennial events -- an economic impact of $661 million. The city would gain $9.4 million in hotel room tax revenues, according to the estimate.

Any funds held by the committee at the end of the celebration would toward Balboa Park capital improvement programs, according to the proposed deal.

Under the agreement, the city will not be allowed to schedule events in Balboa Park during 2015 without consulting the committee.

"We need certainty'' that areas of the park will be available at certain times so events can be planned,'' said Mike McDowell, a committee board member.

The committee plans to use the same model used by the city to host Super Bowls and the America's Cup yacht races.

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