Hail to the Redskins Decision

October 14, 1994

While an administrative hearing officer in Anne Arundel County spent weeks listening to testimony on the proposed Redskins football stadium, the residents of Howard County could only sit in the bleachers and watch. Howard was bound to get some bang, but little buck from the stadium that would sit just outside its border.

But now that Jack Kent Cooke and his minions have been sacked on first down, residents of North Laurel have something to cheer about.

In denying the Redskins permission to build the 78,600-seat facility, hearing officer Robert C. Wilcox stated what we knew all along: the site next to the Laurel Race Course is too small to accommodate a major-league football stadium.

North Laurel is home to a number of die-hard Redskins fans, but most don't want to see the team playing in their backyard. Even before the Redskins began to consider the Laurel site, residents there were getting fed up with the traffic jams, crowded schools and the loss of open space.

Maybe most important, the Redskins made the stadium sound like the Super Bowl of economic development opportunity, but Anne Arundel's hearing officer pointed out that team representatives failed to supply any concrete data on business or job creation.

Howard economic development officials also never foresaw a boom for the county.

While the team apparently overestimated the economic benefits, underestimated the traffic. In creating their traffic projections, the Redskins were depending on fans to car pool or use mass transit. The Redskins were not able to demonstrate a manageable traffic plan if those projections failed.

Howard officials, at best, viewed the project as leverage for additional highway funds. But while Anne Arundel would receive some tax benefits from the $160 million facility, Howard wouldn't. The Redskins agreed to pay Howard a fee, but it would only cover the cost of extra police and fire protection.

This game, to be sure, is not over. Mr. Cooke plans to ask the Anne Arundel Board of Appeals to approve the stadium. We hope, however, he will change his mind and remain in Washington.

That decision would be the winning solution for fans, area residents and the Redskins.

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