Member of Balboa Park Centennial group talks to 10News

2015 celebration to be scaled back

SAN DIEGO - Balboa Park will mark its 100th birthday next year, but the planned international event to celebrate it will not.

The committee tasked with planning the event decided it could not go on any longer because of a wide variety of circumstances that appeared to doom its success from the beginning.  

"We were tasked with putting on a $30 to $50 million event with no money," said Michael Hager, one of the committee members and the CEO of the Natural History Museum.

Balboa Park Centennial Inc. was formed in 2011. From the start, Hager said they were plagued by the recession and then came former Mayor Bob Filner.

It was Filner who insisted that the Tourism Marketing District pay for a good portion of the centennial, but then he withheld their funding which was agreed to by his predecessor. That in turn held up donations and corporate sponsorship.  

"The tenure of Mayor Filner was a disaster for this city and we're still living with it," Hager said.  

But the committee also drew attention to the money it was spending, like paying two consultants roughly $23,000 a month.  

"When you had as little time as we had to plan, you need to bring in experts who have put on big events in the past," Hager said.

For now, the committee is transitioning its authority to the city where Hager said they will have a full accounting of how and where money was spent.

He added that although the event will be scaled back, it will still be a good one.

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