Redskins will buy 100 acres of racetrack land for stadium

January 21, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Washington Redskins officials signed an agreement yesterday to buy 100 acres owned by Laurel Race Course as a site for the team's proposed $160 million stadium.

The parcel is nearly double the 55 acres Redskins officials said they were considering last month. The extra land became necessary when the team decided to move the 78,600-seat stadium 1,700 feet to the west and buy additional property for parking.

Few details of the agreement were released yesterday, including the sale price and the parcel's boundaries. The Laurel Race Course sits on 363 acres.

Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and racetrack owner Joe De Francis lauded the agreement in a prepared statement, but were not available for interviews.

Last month, Mr. Cooke bought 25 acres between the stadium site and Route 198 for $2.1 million in cash. When yesterday's deal becomes final, Mr. Cooke will own 125 acres in Laurel.

Some of the land includes existing track parking lots. The stadium and track will share the lots; there will be no horse racing on game days.

Other land includes a strip along Route 198 south of the racetrack that will be turned into an elongated parking lot, officials said.

Mr. Cooke is also purchasing land between nearby train tracks and Brock Bridge Road. The new stadium site puts the complex over Brock Bridge, just south of the intersection with Whiskey Bottom Road. The Redskins are proposing to loop Brock Bridge Road around the stadium, similar to how a beltway goes around a city.

Walter E. Lynch, project manager for the Redskins, said Wednesday that officials shifted the stadium site to move it farther away from the Laurel Highlands townhouse community and Bacontown. He also said the Redskins will refurbish the parking lots, thus upgrading the racetrack.

"The synergy between the race course, under the able hands of my friend, Joe De Francis, and the new Redskins stadium will create enormous economic activity and jobs for the greater Laurel area," Mr. Cooke said in the statement.

Mr. De Francis said he plans to build new stables, dormitories and barns for the race course, which straddles Anne Arundel and Howard counties line. The stables will be moved from Anne Arundel to Howard to make room for the stadium.

"Laurel Race Course will be a fitting companion to the new Redskins stadium," Mr. De Francis said. "The deal we struck is good for all concerned."

Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association, a member of a Redskins community outreach committee and a stadium opponent, urged caution when informed of the announcement.

"Purchasing the land doesn't mean they are going to build the stadium," he said.

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