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HospitalityBeat: Zoological Society COO to serve on Convention Center board

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Matthew "Mick" Musella, COO of the Zoological Society of San Diego, was recently appointed to serve in an ex-officio capacity on the San Diego Convention Center Corp.'s board of directors.

Musella has been with the Zoological Society since 1991 and currently oversees operations, architecture, planning, corporate merchandising and marketing for the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Prior to working for the Zoological Society, he worked for Anheuser-Busch and the Busch Entertainment Corp. for 19 years and ultimately served as general manager of its theme park, Cypress Gardens, in Florida.

An active member of his community, Musella is a professional fellow at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, second vice chair of the SDCVB's board of directors and member of its executive and finance committees, and trustee of the San Diego County Teamsters Employers Insurance Trust.

The SDCCC has a nine-member board of directors who set policy for the corporation. The City Council appoints seven voting members to three-year terms. Two ex-officio members, or nonvoting members, are appointed by the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association and the SDCVB.

Now celebrating 20 years of success, the Convention Center has generated $18.3 billion in regional economic impact, $364 million in tax revenues for the city of San Diego and supports 12,500 jobs countywide.

Barona Resort & Casino has been honored in 25 different categories in the 2009 "Best of Gaming" readers survey in the July issue of Casino Player magazine -- it received eight first-place titles, including Best Overall Hotel Casino.

"We are honored to receive these awards that come directly from our guests and peers," said Rick Salinas, general manager of Barona. "Our team has once again shown that they are the tops in every aspect of the industry from our casino floor, to our restaurants and golf course."

Readers selected Barona with first-place votes for Best Overall Hotel Casino, Best Blackjack, Best Video Poker, Best Cashback, Best Comps, Best Hosts and Best Steakhouse Restaurant (Barona Oaks Casino) and Best Casino Golf Course (Barona Creek Golf Club).

Barona also received 10 second-place honors for Best Casino, Best Hometown Casino, Best Rooms, Best Spa (AmBience Day Spa), Best Live Poker, Best Players Club, Best Service, Luckiest Casino, Best Chinese (Ho Wan Noodle Shop) and Best Buffet (Ranch House Buffet).

Third place honors included Best Hotel, Best Pool, Best Reel Shots, Best Video Slots, Best Promotions, Best Dealers and Best Coffee Shop (Sage Café).

This Sunday, USD's Alumni Association will play host to the inaugural, sold-out USD Wine Classic as part of the University's 60th celebration. More than 400 tickets have been purchased for the event by USD alumni and the general public.

Some 20 university-affiliated wineries are participating in the event to raise between $10,000 and $20,000 for student scholarships and offer an afternoon of wine tasting and gourmet food on the USD campus.

Many of the owners and winemakers will be pouring their own wines, including Andrew Firestone, USD graduate and former star of ABC's "The Bachelor" who co-owns the Curtis Winery in Paso Robles. Other participating vineyards include Caymus Vineyards, ROAR Wines, St. Supéry and Whitehall Lane.

"We knew this event would be popular but interest has truly exceeded our expectations," said Martin Kaplan, director of alumni relations at USD. "We hope to make this an annual event and one of the premiere wine-tasting events on the West Coast."

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