Redskins officials don't seek state OK

January 14, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

The Redskins came courting Maryland legislators yesterday, touting Jack Kent Cooke's proposed new stadium in Laurel as a $200 million project that will create hundreds of jobs and bring added prestige to the entire state.

Not only will Maryland regain a National Football League team, but taxpayers also will be spared the cost of financing a stadium, team representatives said during a briefing before a pair of Senate committees.

Modest road improvements will minimize traffic congestion around the stadium site, they said.

Team officials made clear that, at least for now, they are not seeking anything from the state and, consequently, do not believe they need General Assembly approval to proceed.

"We are planning to build a private facility. We hope to work with the state and the county, but we do not think we need the legislature's approval to build the facility," said Walter Lynch, Mr. Cooke's stadium project manager.

Mr. Cooke said he that plans to spend $160 million of his own money to build the 78,600-seat stadium, and that he intends to negotiate who will pay for road or other infrastructure improvements that he says will cost about $36 million, but which state officials say could cost two to three times that much.

Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of economic and employment development, said state and county officials and the Redskins agreed yesterday to hire the Baltimore engineering firm of Rummel Klepper and Kahl to perform an infrastructure study of the Laurel site.

A report should be available by Feb. 19, he said, although legislators grumbled that nearly a month has passed since they agreed to launch such a study and warned him that the final report had better meet a previously set deadline of Feb. 14.

During yesterday's briefing, Redskins' officials also disclosed that:

* Mr. Cooke does not plan to name the stadium after himself, but intends to follow the recent national trend in naming sports arenas by marketing the stadium's name commercially. A comparison was made to the name change of the Capital Centre in Largo to the USAir Arena.

* He is considering moving the team's summer training camp from Carlisle, Pa., to Frostburg State University or perhaps to some other Western Maryland site.

Officials deflected demands by Baltimore-area lawmakers that the Redskins set aside tickets for Baltimore fans. They said that, although only 2,500 current season ticket

holders are from Baltimore, tickets could not be set aside for Baltimore fans because the team has such a long waiting list it must honor first.

Team officials, who were led by Annapolis legislative lobbyists Alan M. Rifkin and Gerard E. Evans, also side-stepped repeated demands by Baltimore area lawmakers for Mr. Cooke to say whether he will block attempts by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to bring another NFL franchise to Baltimore.

Each time the question was asked, they replied that Mr. Cooke would not personally stop another NFL team from coming to Baltimore, explaining that such a decision will rest with the majority of other NFL owners.

But Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, told members of the Finance and Budget and Taxation committees that two NFL teams that have expressed interest in moving to Baltimore do not believe the league could stop them if it wanted to.

Toward the end of the presentation by Redskins' officials, Sen. James C. Simpson, a Charles County Democrat, wondered aloud:

"I'm not even sure what we're doing here. If you're not coming to the state for money, I'm not sure it is any of our business -- or should be any of our business -- what Mr. Jack Kent Cooke does with his money."


Gov. William Donald Schaefer's 60-day negotiated deadline for procuring an NFL team is half over, with still no team for Baltimore. (Article, 1C)

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