The Breeders’ Cup is coming to Del Mar in November of this year. This is the Super Bowl of thoroughbred horse racing. Thirteen races will be held over two days: Friday and Saturday Nov. 3 and 4. There will be 150-plus horses from 13 countries. $26 million in purses will be offered, including $5 million for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It is projected that 60,000 people will attend the two-day event. Sixty-five percent of the visitors will be coming from outside San Diego, and most will be coming from outside the United States. The direct spending that flows from this event to Del Mar and the surrounding region is over $35 million.
This an exceptional opportunity for Del Mar to bring the Breeders’ Cup to the best racing venue on the West Coast. The selection of Del Mar for the 2017 Cup is the result of the hard work of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, the San Diego Sports Alliance, the San Diego Tourism Authority and the Del Mar Village Association.
But the planners of the Breeders’ Cup do more than just organize horse racing. They have always tried to create a variety of activities and events in the host communities during the one week leading up to the races. Del Mar’s Cup will be no exception. A Breeders’ Cup Festival is planned with community events, art exhibits, concerts, a 5k race, and opportunities for families to learn about horses and breeding farms.
The organizers have come to the City Council and described three short-term installations that will be new to Del Mar. The first is a “countdown digital” clock that will be displayed in town to show the time remaining until the November event. The second is the “Art of the Horse.” This is the installation of 20 fiberglass horses, located throughout Del Mar. The horses will be painted by local artists and auctioned off for charity.
The third installation is an 80-foot by 200-foot activity tent to house 800 visitors. The tent, which is being called “The Barn at The Beach,” will be put up for 14 days at Powerhouse Park. It will allow the Breeders’ Cup to host events in our Del Mar Village, rather than going to other venues. The tent will also provide an opportunity for residents to participate in the Breeders’ Cup for free without attending the actual races.
For the tent to be approved, it must receive a special operating permit from the City Council. This type of installation is never automatic and should be carefully reviewed by City staff and approved by the City Council. The permit is in two parts. The first part is a general agreement from the Council that the concept of a tent is worth investigating. That has been approved.
The second part of the permit is a complete set of operating details that will come before the Council in February.
Naturally, Del Mar is very protective of its parks. We are careful not to spoil their natural beauty. But in the case of The Barn at The Beach, Powerhouse Park’s landscaping will be restored to pristine conditions. I am hopeful that the Breeders’ Cup will also provide funds to help the City improve Sea Grove Park, or fund our public art program.
As is the custom in Del Mar, there will be some residents that will voice strong concerns about the Breeders’ Cup proposals. We should listen carefully and, to the extent possible, make reasonable changes that make the Cup activities and events positive for our residents.
But we should also be good hosts. This is our chance to welcome the Breeders’ Cup and ensure that visitors have a good experience in our beautiful city. This is our chance to encourage the Cup to return and make it Del Mar’s signature event. Having the Breeders’ Cup activities in Del Mar is a very good thing.
We don’t want to be known as an elitist community, the city that writes parking tickets on holidays, and says “No” to practically everything. Let’s show the world that Del Mar is a wonderful place, with wonderful people…wonderful hosts.
I have the privilege of serving as Del Mar’s Mayor for one year.
These comments are my own perspective and do not represent the consensus of the Council.