View Blog Posts About: San Diego in the Spotlight

San Diego Addition to Tour of California Makes For “mini Tour de France”

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When Foreign Cycling Team Managers start referring to the Tour de California as a “mini Tour de France”, you know this four-year old bike race has finally come of age.

America has made many attempts over the years to create a bike race on our soil that would be respected among the cycling elites around the world. There have been many fits and starts. I got to see some of the attempts first-hand growing up in Wilmington, DE during the 1980s. Wilmington was frequently both the start and end points for the Tour de Trump, sponsored by The Donald, and then the Tour du Pont.

If any readers remember those races, I’ll never forget sitting at the bottom of Monkey Hill during time trials. The cyclists would head down the street that changed from blacktop to cobblestone and then made a 90 degree right turn.  Making the 90 degree turn while heading downhill on cobblestone was as nerve wracking for the spectator to watch as it was for the cyclist who had to navigate the corner. It was even worse during a couple of the years when there was a light drizzle making it nearly impossible to make a clean turn going any faster than a snail’s pace. We, the spectators, could always tell when a spectacular crash was impending just by judging the speed of the cyclist heading down the hill. (We tried to warn them to no avail. One even took out a street sign well after his body had left the bike.)

Unfortunately, sponsorship eventually waned and the race disappeared.

Anyways, back to the point of this post. The 2009 edition of the Amgen Tour of California is the fourth year of the newest attempt at creating an internationally respectable race in the States.

This is the first year San Diego is being added to the route. For a first time site, it is impressive the San Diego route will serve as the final stage of the nine-day race.

What makes it more impressive is the amount of attention the San Diego route is getting from the international press and foreign cycling teams who will be competing in the race.  The Norwegian cycling web site Syklingens Verden quotes one of the team managers saying “This year’s California is kind of like a mini-Tour de France 2009″ as a result of adding the San Diego stage. The team manager went on to compare the climb up to Palomar Mountain to the venerable Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France, the king of all cycling races.

Palomar Mountain is the centerpiece of the final stage in San Diego. At a summit of 5,123 feet, Palomar Mountain will be the highest peak ever included in the Tour of California.

The Tour of California will get an extra boost of attention with Lance Armstrong’s return to racing. In an interview with Velo News, which is posted on the fan web site for his Astana Team, Armstrong noted, “The first time I ever rode Palomar Mountain was in 1987. It’s been 22 years since I did it for the first time. I’ve done it many times since then. It’s an epic climb, I should say it’s a real climb.”  Armstrong is one of the most respected climbers in cycling and to have him call the Palomar climb ‘epic’ has the whole world watching this final Stage 8 in San Diego.

The cycling world’s largest contingent of fans are in Europe. For the first time, those fans will be able to watch American’s premier race during Prime Time in Europe. The Tour of California will be carried live by Eurosport.

So, get out there and cheer San Diego. The bike race in San Diego will be the most anticipated stage of the most prominent race in America and it will be seen live around the world.  This is San Diego’s big opportunity to make a lasting impression and encourage the world to come and visit one of the world’s best cities!

Visit the San Diego stage map for the Tour of California for more details.

Fans of Outer Space to Converge in San Diego

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Look up in the sky tonight and appreciate the accomplishments of those who sought to bring the mysteries of space closer to home. This is the International Year of Astronomy celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope and the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

San Diegans will have a unique opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments in astronomy with the astronauts and scientists who spark our imaginations with the pictures and stories they bring to us from outer space. The 2nd annual Spacefest, The Ultimate Space Show will take place February 19-22 right here in San Diego.

Seventeen astronauts, including Dr. Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins from the first lunar landing, are scheduled to be on hand for the event. There will be an opportunity to get their autographs as well as those of other test pilots who made space travel possible.

Leaders in astronomical research, including Carolyn Porco, Imaging Team Leader for the Cassini-Huygens mission, Carolyn Shoemaker, record holder for the most comets identified by an individual, and Peter Smith, the Principal Investigator for the Phoenix Mars Lander, will give presentations during the conference.

You can spend quality time with the astronauts and other celebrities by golfing with them in a fundraiser for the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Spacefest is open to the public and will be held at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in Mission Valley, just off of highway I-8. Admission costs $35 for a day or $75 for the full conference ($25 / $50 for kids ages 6 – 17). The banquet, luncheon, VIP reception, and most autographs are extra. For a full list of conference activities view the Spacefest Schedule.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to meet the people who first captured the world’s imagination 40 years ago and continue to inspire our exploration of outer space. And, in this International Year for Astronomy, make time to explore San Diego’s astronomy attractions, including great places to view the stars.

Football in San Diego Sells our Tourist Appeal to 55 Million TV Viewers

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It’s been an amazing two weeks for San Diego football fans and our tourism industry.  Fifty-five million viewers tuned in to watch four of the nation’s best football games of the year, all played in our hometown of San Diego.

Aerial views of beautiful San Diego were broadcast into homes across the country repeatedly during each of the four games. Although we may have thought the weather was less than ideal, the announcers kindly reminded millions of football fans (and their travel dollars) that it doesn’t get much better than San Diego.

Not only did we have the opportunity to head over to Qualcomm Stadium to see four of the most highly anticipated football games this season or go crazy after seeing the Chargers pull off two great victories, our local economy will get a boost when many of the TV viewers make their vacation plans in the coming months. Considering our slow economy, the nationwide exposure and the #1 TV ratings we received were priceless.

So, the next time friends and family in other parts of the country call you after seeing San Diego football on TV and they ask you “what else is there to do in San Diego other than enjoy the great weather and visit the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld”, send them to The Best Places In San Diego.

Here are the statistics as tracked by the Nielsen Ratings and reported by the web site TV by the Numbers.

14.8 Million Viewers watched San Diego Chargers beat the Denver Broncos. The #1 rated TV program for the week ending December 28th.

A whopping 27.8 million viewers watched the San Diego Chargers beat the Indianapolis Colts. The #1 rated TV program for the week ending January 4th.

The #1 cable program for the week ending January 4th was the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium when Oregon upset Oklahoma State in front of 6.2 million TV viewers.

An additional 5 million viewers watched the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl when Texas Christain beat Boise State in the 7th highest rated TV program broadcast on cable for the week ending December 28th.

San Diego Parade to Be Aired Nationwide

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Move over Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and make way for the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade. The USA Network will be broadcasting our parade on New Year’s Day Weekend. It will be shown on Friday, January 2nd at Noon on the East Coast and 9AM here in San Diego.

The actual parade takes place at 9AM Monday, December 29th. This is the perfect chance for you to get taped on video soaking in the warm San Diego sunshine for all your friends in the rest of the country to see.  Tell them to pour themselves some hot cocoa, cover themselves in a warm blanket and wish they were in San Diego.

Be sure to ask for the day off from work and show America that the place to be for a wintertime parade is our own San Diego. Kermit the Frog will the the Grand Marshall. You can watch the parade in person for free as it heads down Harbor Drive from the County Administration Building to the area in front of Seaport Village. However, to increase your odds of getting on TV you will need to buy $15 tickets to sit in the grandstand area in front of the Holiday Inn.

Afterwards, there will be a Family Festival on Broadway Pier. So be sure to ask for the whole day off from work and enjoy.

Baby Panda Bear Goes Nationwide on PBS

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Zhen Zhen, the adorable little panda bear born just over a year ago at the San Diego Zoo is being featured nationwide this week on local PBS stations. The San Diego broadcast is tonight at 8PM.

Panda Tales – A Year in the Life of a Baby Giant Panda is an hour-long documentary about Zhen Zhen and the amazing video of her first year of life as she stumbles to find her footing with the other Giant Pandas at the San Diego Zoo. You will also learn about the plight of Pandas, whose native home in China was significantly shaken up during a major earthquake earlier this year.

The documentary was filmed by our local KPBS station and is in the process of being shown throughout the country. Those outside of San Diego can check your local PBS TV Schedule online and type “Panda Tales” in the searchbox for dates and times.

If you missed ‘Panda Tales’, watch a short video and look at pictures of the baby Panda on the KPBS web site. Even better, you can see all four Giant Pandas live at the San Diego Zoo on the Giant Panda Cam. If it happens to be nighttime in San Diego, don’t worry. You will find a link to time-lapse video at the bottom of the page. There is also a Giant Panda Blog for those that want to follow the life of the Pandas at the San Diego Zoo.

Zoo members can read more about the documentary in this month’s ZOONOOZ magazine.

Once again, those of us lucky enough to live in San Diego can see the beautiful Pandas in person. If you have not visited the Zoo lately, don’t let haste make waste. Go see the Pandas today!

Comments on San Diego #3

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Welcome to the third edition of comments visitors from around the world are making about San Diego.  This ought to make you feel good about living in a city where others only get to visit for a day or week.  If you missed the previous editions, start with Comments on San Diego #2.

Atlanta Journal Constitution – “It’s never easy taking that cab ride to the San Diego airport on Sunday night, the sun setting, the cool breeze blowing, the pretty ladies walking along the sidewalks, the outdoor cafes bustling, the sailboats on the harbor.

But duty calls, and we’re leaving the paradisical city with its tanned denizens, its rich assortment of tattooed locals, straw-fedora’d cruisers, wealthy tourists, hard-working immigrants, and bums — surf or street, they got ‘em all — and did we mention beauties? Of every nationality, they got those, you better believe it.”

Traveler from London – “San Diego must be one of America’s best-kept secrets, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Very few Europeans would put it at the top of their list of places to visit and yet is has a climate unrivalled by Florida and a location to surpass Los Angeles. It also has a diversity of culture and sights to match Washington, New York, San Francisco or any of the other “great” cities.”

Belfast, Ireland Telegraph – “In Southern California, where the desert meets the Pacific, you’ll find a city that combines opulence with stunning scenery.”

Salt Lake City Tribune – “Southern California’s gem of a city, San Diego, ranks as a wonderful year-round destination…”

The Independent (London) – “..San Diego, being the second city in the most powerful state in the world’s supreme nation isn’t so bad after all, especially when the city in first place just does not have the looks and location. You know who I’m talking about, LA. Give me San Diego anytime: an oasis of indulgence between the desert and the ocean.”