Redskins fans are full of opinions on Cooke

December 12, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Suspicion was everywhere at RFK Stadium yesterday, among even the most loyal Washington Redskins fans, as the debate intensified over Jack Kent Cooke's intentions to move the team to Laurel.

The Redskins were meeting the New York Jets on the field, but the Washington fans were more than willing to talk at length about Cooke.

Richard Cooling of Frederick went so far as to suggest that Cooke was just helping out Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis with his proposal to purchase land from him to build a new stadium.

"To someone like Jack Kent Cooke, a few million dollars for some land is nothing," said Cooling, 50, who has been a Redskins season-ticket holder for nine years. "He is doing it to help out De Francis and bring the city [Washington] to its knees [in negotiations for a new stadium]. He could always sell the land in a couple of years and make some money on it. I think he's probably going to buy the racetrack [Laurel] sometime, but keep the team in Washington."

Cooke apparently will sign papers tomorrow to seal a $2.1 million purchase of a 25-acre tract of land next to the proposed stadium site. Cooke said he plans to use the 25 acres to provide parking for 23,000 cars.

Jeff Wertz of Ellicott City said Cooke's threat to move to Laurel was just that -- a threat. "It's a ploy to get a better deal out of Washington. He really wants to keep the team in Washington," said Wertz, 33, who said he attends three games a year.

Several other fans echoed Wertz's opinion, but there were some people who supported Cooke.

One of them was Jeanne Daniel of Mount Vernon, Va.

"He's gone out of his way to build a stadium in Washington, but he hasn't received too much cooperation. It's time for the city to help."

Daniel, 59, said she didn't want the team to move to Laurel because "it's Washington's team. I like tradition and the Redskins have been in Washington."

Daniel said her father, Ernest Fontana, was one of the original season-ticket holders of the Redskins and the Senators.

"He had season tickets for the Redskins in 1937," said Daniel. "And my sister [June Brandenburg] and I took them over and have been bringing our children to the games."

One of the younger fans yesterday, B. J. Lanier of Herndon, Va., said the Redskins "need to move somewhere because this stadium [RFK] and area isn't that good."

Lanier, 15, said he believes a move to northern Virginia would be better than to Laurel.

"We have a lot of open space out near Herndon," said Lanier.

And there apparently were some people who just didn't care where the struggling Redskins went.

There were nearly 8,500 no-shows yesterday, and one man said he couldn't give away four tickets.

The man, who didn't want to be identified, said: "I had four good tickets and no one wanted them. People said they had to go shopping and do other things. These same people used to harass me all the time."

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