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Can the San Diego region still walk the red carpet?

The region risks losing much more than the Chargers. Instead of leadership, there is empty posturing. Instead of blockbuster movies, there are black-and-white talkies. Is it any wonder our citizens are tired of watching the same re-run?

The San Diego region is in danger of losing what makes it alluring. Older facilities such as the Sports Arena and Qualcomm Stadium, along with treasures such as parks, are like aging Hollywood actors — they sometimes need a little “work.” Are we destined to be a sports ghost town with the Padres and nothing else for five million people? Will dollars and advertising dwindle along with entertainment opportunities?

There is no free lunch as it relates to quality of life amenities, even in a region accustomed to the cushioned ride of tourism dollars. As tourism becomes increasingly competitive, it is important to remember what makes the region special. San Diego will always have visitors that spend money and allow cities to provide services, but is the region becoming an aging actor, will the fans keep coming to the theater? Or is our region going straight to the video store as a direct to DVD release?

National City is proposing a back-to-the-future-style return to the 60s when the Sports Arena and Qualcomm Stadium made San Diego state of the art. Leadership did not let politics and bureaucratic process get in the way of constructing successful partnerships and facilities that citizens could brag about.

The new center of a binational region is the South Bay and all roads lead to National City where political will and community support are evident. Not because a stadium is a panacea for needed revenue, or because San Diego State and the bowls would benefit —but because of the potential of creating a worldclass bay front. It is helpful that the project would provide $357 million dollars in tax increment to our city as well benefit our new marina, Aquatic Center and Sycuan hotel. Consider as well the synergy with San Diego’s booming downtown as well as momentum to Chula Vista’s proposed bay-front development.

An Oscar is beckoning and National City is ready to be part of an award-winning ensemble cast. Is the region ready to walk the red carpet?

CHRIS ZAPATA

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