Proposed amphitheater deal falls apart County had talked with Calif. firm WEST COUNTY -- Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

March 11, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The mystery builder of a proposed 22,700-seat amphitheater and park in West County is a mystery no more.

His plans are no more, too.

County officials said yesterday that negotiations with Entasis, a San Diego-based company, to build an amphitheater similar to Virginia's Wolf Trap died when the firm could not come up with its share of the cost. "This is the '90s, not the '80s," said Michael Lofton, the director of the county's Economic Development Office, who was involved in the negotiations.

Yesterday's announcement was the first time county officials publicly acknowledged the name of the amphitheater company.

Hal Kolker, the president of Entasis, said it wasn't a financial hurdle that stalled the deal, but the inability of his firm and the owner of the 100 acres off Route 198 to come to terms.

County officials, who have been negotiating with the firm for more than a year, said they needed Entasis to come up with $12 million by Feb. 15 so they could include $3 million to $5 million of county money in next year's capital budget. The money would be used for a sewer system.

County Council Chairman David G. Boschert, who first announced the plans about this time last year, expressed disappointment.

He said there were other major companies interested in carrying out the plan, but talks were just getting under way.

But Mr. Kolker doubts that developers are knocking down doors to make proposals. For that reason, he says, he's still a player here but is looking at several other sites in the region, including one in Manassas, Va.

The details of the amphitheater deal have always been sketchy. In February 1992, Mr. Boschert made a surprise announcement about a West Coast company with plans to build near Fort Meade. He declined to name the company or type of development being proposed.

A month later, county officials confirmed the amphitheater plans but refused to name the company.

Yesterday, in announcing the death of the deal, they finally used the company's name.

Despite the setback, Mr. Boschert still wants the county to buy the land for $1 million and lease a portion of it to a developer for an amphitheater. Any land that isn't used for the amphitheater would go for much-needed athletic fields and other recreational activities.

The owner of the land, Potomac resident Doug Legum, would sell the land at a discount and get a substantial tax break for selling the property to the county.

Mr. Legum and his attorney, Steve Resnick, could not be reached for comment.

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