— Gaylord's new management "has different expectations for our properties on return on investment," explains spokesperson Greg Rossiter. "We want more public participation."

He notes that discussions with Chula Vista and the port are in "very preliminary stages." At one point, it appeared that the project would be sole-sourced to Gaylord, but city councilmember Donna Frye, head of the city council's committee on government efficiency and openness, raised questions about that. Now, other developers are welcome to apply, but the port has given Gaylord "prequalified" status; it has no need to reapply. "Gaylord is in the lead. It is setting the bar that everyone else will have to meet or reach," harrumphs Boling. Gaylord looks like a shoo-in.

If it's any consolation, Gaylord appears to need corporate welfare. The company has lost money in four of the last five years and for the first six months of the current year. "We have a significant amount of debt," the company conceded in its 2004 annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. That debt is $576 million. Morningstar, Inc., a stock-rating agency, gives the company a grade of F for its financial position and D for its profitability.

The stock has done surprisingly well of late -- one reason that Standard & Poor's gives it its one star (lowest) rating. The stock has been selling at double its fair value, as computed by Standard & Poor's. The company says that most of its profit problems stem from its holding of stock in Viacom. The losses are "accounting noise," claims Rossiter. However, Gaylord has had substantial hotel preopening costs that have depressed profits, along with some diversification that has gone awry.

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