As a longtime resident of Chicago, having lived in San Francisco for much of the past five years--and been civicly involved with both, as I am now in San Diego--I feel somewhat qualified to comment on what is required for a city to attain the stature of a national class, not to even consider international class.
To have lost a symphony orchestra, and to a much lesser degree a professional basketball team, is unforgivable, and could set back the city for years in the eyes of the country and world. Most major cities have had similar problems, but they fought for their local treasures and eventually retained them.
On the positive side, our zoo and Old Globe Theatre complex easily surpass most of those found elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, we are reaching the standards established by major cities on the negative side. All too apparent examples can be found in the increasing traffic congestion, crime and drug problems.
But now, San Diego has been handed a vehicle on which to redeem itself--the chance to host the next America's Cup races--and the apparent disinterest is disappointing and appalling. I personally know nothing about sailboat racing, but realize that the national and international interest aroused by the current races in Australia will continue. San Diego has a golden opportunity to take a giant leap ahead, and the mayor and civic leaders must be aware of this.