Hello Café readers, hope you’re enjoying your summer. As a 30-plus-year San Diegan, I can unequivocally say that between Memorial and Labor Day San Diego lives up to its label of “America’s Finest City.” The beaches of Encinitas, shopping in La Jolla, fish tacos at the Brigantine, people watching in the Gaslamp, PB, OB, Sea World, LEGOLAND, the Zoo … you get the picture.

Another San Diego summer destination is the race track at Del Mar. The seaside track just kicked off its 69th season and 43,459 people celebrated on opening day, a record. That number is even more impressive if you consider our economy and on-track attendance trends for the horse racing industry.

(Before I go any further I should say that I work at Del Mar. This is my first season as a year-round employee, though many moons ago I worked seasonally in Guest Services. I’ve gotten a feel for “where the turf meets the surf,” and it’s a culture that has and will endure.)

While Del Mar isn’t immune to either the economy or some of the current woes associated with the racing industry, we do take measures that help build our brand. A brand established in 1937. A brand dreamt up by Hollywood stars Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien. A brand that bridges the decades with its attractions, from Seabiscuit to Best Pal, Marilyn Monroe to Uma Thurman, from Jack Dempsey to Ladainian Tomlinson. A brand that is, “Cool As Ever”. Del Mar has always been a scene — and also a “be seen.”

Additionally, we have a summer concert series that started in 1994 with “The Rugburns” performing one night after the races. Their success laid the framework for performances from the likes of Cake, Ziggy Marley, Gnarls Barkley and Jack Johnson.

But beyond the culture of cool created at Del Mar is the economic impact produced every meet. The reality of sporting events is that while they bring in a large audience, most of the time they fail to assist the city. Nearly 40 percent of Del Mar’s patrons are from outside the city limits. This is a major boon to San Diego. A 2003 economic impact study showed the 2002 race meet created over $94 million in local economic impact. This was a more significant impact than the Padres or Chargers because of the number of visitors from outside San Diego Country spending money.

So, I’m a bit all over the board with this initial post. Please forgive me because this is my first time “chatting” online. I welcome everyone’s questions and comments and hope to see you at the track.


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