With stadium zoning hearing near, Redskins try to score publicity points

July 06, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

With a zoning hearing on their proposed stadium less than a week away, the Redskins have launched an all-out publicity campaign that includes a "family day" with team members, appearances in local parades and full-page newspaper ads.

The ads in today's Annapolis Capital, the Anne Arundel County edition of The Sun and the Washington Post appear under the headline: "Why building the Redskins' new stadium in Anne Arundel County is a good call."

Each touts the benefits of the $160 million stadium owner Jack Kent Cooke proposes to build on Route 198 east of Laurel.

The Redskins say the stadium will bring in 1,500 temporary jobs during the two-year construction period and 150 full-time and 1,900 part-time jobs when it opens.

The ad also says that $1.7 billion will be added to Anne Arundel County's coffers and $545 million to the state treasury during the 75 years Mr. Cooke has promised to keep his team in Maryland.

The $43 million needed for road work and other improvements would come from county bonds that would be paid back over 8 1/2 years out of taxes on stadium tickets and food.

Thomas Dernoga, a lawyer for the Citizens Against the Stadium II, said the team's publicity blitz was to be expected. The public hearing on zoning for the stadium is scheduled to begin Monday.

"They have the money to throw at it to try to sugarcoat what they're up to," said Mr. Dernoga, who said of the dollar figures mentioned in the Redskins' ads, "They're sort of enticing 90 percent of the county to make a profit off the 10 percent that get stuck with this. . . . At this point, it looks like a big bag of money."

The Redskins' offensive includes the help of Gray Kirk VanSant Inc., a major Baltimore advertising firm handling some of the pro-stadium publicity. The firm has sent out information packets to the news media and offered tours of the stadium site.

Walter Lynch, project manager for the stadium, said the team has long planned to hire the company as an advertising consultant.

"Many people are missing what the Redskins are all about," he said, noting the stories that have centered on traffic and environmental concerns. "We're just showing that the Redskins mean more than traffic. They're a community glue."

RFK Stadium, the team's current home, is owned and operated by the District of Columbia. The Redskins would own the Laurel stadium. It would be their home, and their community involvement and charitable works would come to Laurel and to the county, Mr. Lynch said.

Saturday, the team will sponsor a "family day" on the proposed stadium site at the Laurel Race Course.

Another sign of the team's push is its membership on the Anne Arundel County Trade Council, which it joined in mid-June under the name "Redskins Stadium." This month, the council's cable television show will be devoted to a discussion of the council's support for the stadium. The show will run Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 2 p.m.

The Redskins' marching band appeared in the Annapolis Fourth of July parade Monday, and team officials took part in Laurel's parade.

The Redskins say the stadium will bring millions of dollars to the county. Mr. Dernoga said the benefit could be even greater if the site was developed for high-technology industry, which would mean high-paying jobs.

Also concerning the proposed stadium, the Anne Arundel County Council rejected last night by a 6-1 vote a resolution that would have placed on the November ballot a charter amendment prohibiting the use of county money to pay for a stadium like the one being proposed by Mr. Cooke.

Only the resolution's sponsor, Council Chairman C. Edward Middlebrooks, voted for it.

Citizens Against the Stadium II is conducting a petition drive to place the charter amendment on the ballot. The petition would not have been necessary if the council had passed the resolution.

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