It's time for Cooke to take his ballclub and go home

October 13, 1994|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Redskins, go home.

Back to D.C. Back to RFK Stadium. Back to Marion Barry.

Poor Jack Kent Cooke.

D.C. didn't want him. Alexandria, Va., didn't want him. And now Laurel doesn't want him, either.

Some big shot.

Cooke now has struck out on as many stadiums as marriages, depending on how you count Marlena "Not My Wife" Chalmers.

He's going to fight this, of course. He's going to appeal, and cajole, and bully -- whatever it takes to build his 78,600-seat temple of greed.

Hit the road, Jack.

Take your 330 luxury boxes, your stupid entry passes, your stinkin', last-place Redskins.

And don't you come back no more.

"This was not a close case," concluded Robert C. Wilcox, the Anne Arundel County Administrative Hearing Officer who denied the Redskins' request for a zoning exemption in Laurel.

Memo to Maryland Stadium Authority:

Don't forget the statue of Wilcox at the soon-to-be-constructed Schaefer Stadium at Camden Yards.

Oh, Wilcox's ruling yesterday doesn't guarantee that Baltimore will get the Los Angeles Rams or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the long run, it might not even help.

Still, Peter Angelos could barely contain his glee, calling the decision "a welcome and positive develop-ment" and "a very significant setback for Cooke."

As everyone knows, the first one to get his shovel in the ground wins. And right now, Cooke's shovel isn't welcome on Maryland soil.

Laurel 1, Redskins 0.

Can't this team beat anyone?

"The applicant's traffic estimates were vastly understated," Wilcox said. "A critical zoning requirement cannot be satisfied. Simply stated, the property is too small for the proposed use."

What's Cooke going to do, build a smaller stadium?

Live from Meade High, it's Redskins-Cowboys!

Of course, there's always D.C., and future mayor Marion Barry.

Cooke and Barry, such fine gentlemen.

Pillars of our nation's capital.

Cooke the owner predicts his 1-5 Redskins will go 9-7. Cooke the stadium planner believes a county decision means nothing.

"A preliminary hearing, and, in many respects, a discovery hearing," Cooke called it yesterday.

Wilcox's 64-page ruling?

"A road map to cure the faults he envisions," Cooke said.

As usual, Cooke is ignoring traffic.

Maybe Cooke and Disney can build their own island off the Virginia coast, complete with a stadium, theme park and $50 ferry boat rides.

Oh, Cooke still might get his $160 million stadium in Laurel, but not without dramatic revisions that could prove costly and unwieldy.

For once, maybe even the NFL is embarrassed.

Two weeks ago, the league voted to approve the Redskins' move to Laurel, in part because Cooke's son, John, led the owners to believe that every obstacle had been overcome.

"They left the impression that it was all done," one owner told The Sun's Vito Stellino.

Oops.

John Cooke, the Redskins' executive vice president, apparently said Wilcox was expected to approve the team's request for a zoning variance.

Just slightly misleading.

The question now is just how much Baltimore's NFL chances will improve. Cooke can try to block a franchise shift, but NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said that even if the Redskins move to Laurel, it would not bar Baltimore from getting a team.

The legal impediment is gone, and now the physical impediment might be gone, too. A month ago, Rams president John Shaw considered the Redskins-to-Laurel scenario the major obstacle to a Baltimore move.

"We've discussed what impact a team in Laurel might have on a team in Baltimore," Shaw told the Los Angeles Times. "That's obviously a factor on a potential move to Baltimore, a substantial factor, to be honest with you."

Shaw met with St. Louis officials yesterday, but surely now the Rams will re-examine Baltimore.

A landmark decision, all to preserve the quality of life in Laurel, whatever that means.

Hit the road, Jack.

Don't you come back no more, no more . . .

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