Cooke's back on the warpath

October 19, 1992

Jack Kent Cooke couldn't get enough of a sweetheart deal to move the Washington Redskins to Alexandria, so now we can expect to see his gilded shopping cart scurrying around the Capital Beltway. If Alexandria won't play his game, presumably there are other suburbs that will. In Virginia, perhaps. In Maryland -- no way.

To their credit, Prince George's and Montgomery County officials have refused to play Mr. Cooke's game of seeking the highest bidder for the site of the new football stadium he would like to build. Some other Virginia suburbs have expressed interest, but Mr. Cooke will have a hard sell to state legislators who were soured by his attempt, along with Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, to pull off a quarterback sneak in the dark.

Maryland state officials have not heard a peep from Mr. Cooke and are content to leave it that way. There may be some politicians in the Washington suburbs who would like to see the Redskins in their back yard. It wouldn't help their constituents, who couldn't buy tickets at a new stadium any more than they could at RFK Stadium in Washington. But how some of the pols would love those invitations to the owner's skybox!

Viewed from Baltimore the prospect is even more repugnant. Governor Wilder tried to panic his legislature with the phony argument Mr. Cooke might seek to build his new stadium at Camden Yards. Maryland officials are not going to raid another city, least of all a close neighbor like Washington. Even Mr. Cooke may not really believe relocating his team at another site in the capital is a dead issue. He may just be holding out for a little more money from Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. For our part, we think sports stadia work best in cities, as Oriole Park has demonstrated once again.

Above all, a National Football League stadium in Maryland -- anywhere in Maryland -- would destroy the Baltimore area's chance for an expansion team. And it would do football fans here no good at all. The Redskins sell out every game. The waiting list for season tickets would fill another stadium. Local fans would be stuck with their TV sets. If Mr. Cooke is tempted by the $130 million the Maryland Stadium Authority is authorized to spend on a new football stadium, he had better read the fine print. That money can be spent only at Camden Yards. The General Assembly could change that, of course, but the attempt would touch off a battle nastier than the one in Virginia. The shore of the Anacostia River looks better all the time.

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