'Misinformation' on stadium alleged

February 10, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A group fighting a proposed NFL football stadium outside Laurel accused stadium promoters Tuesday of misleading government officials and the public about the proposed stadium's impact.

In a press release, Don Burgess, president of Citizens Against the Stadium II, said that Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke's organization is conducting "an orchestrated misinformation campaign" to present the project in a favorable light.

Walter Lynch, stadium project manager, called the press release "defamatory" yesterday and said that he stands by the information he has given out in 72 briefings to date.

Citizens Against the Stadium II alleged stadium backers cannot support their estimate that road improvements will cost about $36 million. Preliminary estimates by the state have been much higher, the group said.

Mr. Lynch said that the $36 million figure came from a preliminary study commissioned by the Cooke organization and has not changed.

Further traffic studies have been delayed because the weather has rendered traffic counts meaningless, he said. Work will continue for at least two more weekends, he said.

The stadium opponents also questioned whether traffic counts taken in January and February could be used to accurately predict traffic volumes for November and December, when Christmas shopping peaks.

Mr. Lynch said that state officials will require the traffic figures to be adjusted to account for this seasonal differential.

The stadium opponents called the team's claim that the project would bring $200 million in spending to the Laurel area "unsubstantiated." They said that the promoters cited as a source an impact study for a stadium proposed for downtown Baltimore, where conditions are different.

"They obviously never read the study," Mr. Lynch said, adding that it did not focus solely on Baltimore, but also discussed suburban settings.

Alan Rifkin, a lobbyist working for the Cooke organization, said that construction alone would funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in spending into the Laurel area, including $160 million for the stadium and $36 million for roads.

Citizens Against the Stadium II also challenged team estimates of the number of fans who would reach the stadium by car pool. They said that the team should use an estimate of 2.3 persons per vehicle instead of three persons per vehicle.

Mr. Lynch responded that the National Football League, the National Park Service and traffic engineers working on other stadium projects have all used the estimate of three people per vehicle.

"If they [Citizens Against the Stadium II] have data and information to the contrary, where is it?" Mr. Rifkin said.

"What I guess is bothering them is that we're effective and people are listening and what we say makes sense."

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