Anti-stadium charter amendment won't make ballot this fall

August 09, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Carol L. Bowers contributed to this article.

Foes of a proposed NFL stadium in Laurel have failed in their bid to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would prohibit Anne Arundel County from using funds for large sports facilities.

Citizens Against the Stadium II, an anti-stadium group named after an organization that fought an earlier Redskins stadium proposal in Virginia, needed to file 10,000 signatures by 5 p.m. yesterday to place the charter amendment on the November general election ballot.

However, Nancy Crawford, administrator for the county board of election supervisors, said no petitions were received by the 5 p.m. deadline.

"I didn't have 10,000," said Jeanne Mignon, president of CATS II, who estimated last night her group had collected 4,000 to 5,000 signatures.

Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke wants to build a 78,600-seat National Football League stadium east of Laurel. A public hearing on the stadium proposal is in its fifth week.

The Redskins have proposed to pay for the $160 million stadium, but want the county to issue about $43 million in bonds to pay for needed road improvements. The Redskins say the bonds would be repaid out of tax revenues generated by the stadium.

In early May, CATS II announced it would try to change the county charter to prohibit county money from being used for professional sports stadiums with a capacity of 25,000 or more. By early July, they claimed to have collected nearly half the required signatures.

On July 5, Anne Arundel County Council Chairman C. Edward Middlebrooks proposed a council resolution that would have placed a similar charter amendment on the November ballot.

However, the council defeated the resolution on a 6-1 vote.

Redskins spokesman Alan Rifkin said yesterday that CATS II's failure "really speaks for itself."

He said the Redskins have been encouraged by the amount of support received to date, including the support of trade councils, some homeowners and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Ms. Mignon said the group expects to be fighting the stadium for at least two years, and will continue collecting signatures so the charter amendment may be pursued later.

"This is a matter of principle with me," she said. "People gave up their weekends [collecting signatures]. They went out in 100-degree heat. . . . I'm not just putting it away."

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