Stadium's cause aided by election

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

The political winds that have swept John G. Gary into the Anne Arundel County executive's office and a Republican majority into the County Council chamber may blow new life into the Redskins' proposal for a stadium in Laurel.

The Anne Arundel Trade Council is putting together a proposal for Mr. Gary that will outline why a $160 million stadium would be good for the county, and what the county should do to make the stadium a reality. That proposal should be ready within about 30 days, said Richard J. Morgan, president of the Annapolis National Bank and head of the Trade Council's economic development committee.

"The heat's on. We've got to perform," he said, noting that Washington Mayor-elect Marion S. Barry Jr. desperately wants to keep the Redskins in the district.

The proposed 78,600-seat Redskins stadium is the only policy issue on which Mr. Gary may act within the next 60 days, George C. Shenk Jr., head of Mr. Gary's transition team, said yesterday.

Last week, the county's economic development corporation commissioned the Arthur Andersen & Co. accounting firm to study whether the proposed stadium would benefit the county's economy. The study will cost $40,000 to $53,000 and should be completed around Dec. 1, said Michael S. Lofton, executive director of the county development corporation.

"There's certainly a willingness on the part of this new council to closely look at the stadium," said Mr. Lofton.

If the Arthur Andersen study shows the stadium is a good deal for the county, the Trade Council will propose using county money or county-backed bonds to help pay for road improvements and additional stadium parking.

"We're going to deliver him the perfect case: We know that the revenue is going to be X and the expenditure is going to be Y," Mr. Morgan said.

A favorable report also could sway the new County Council members' selection of new Board of Appeals members. These appointees will hear the appeal of the county's Oct. 12 rejection of the Redskins' stadium proposal.

Citizens Against the Stadium II (CATS II) attacked the county development corporation for commissioning the study.

Jeanne Mignon, the group's president, said in a written statement Monday that tax money should not be used to help Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, "a wealthy private developer."

"Many Anne Arundel officials complain constantly that this county is cash poor due to the voter-mandated tax cap, yet they seem eager to tap the county coffers on Mr. Cooke's behalf," Mary Lehman, a spokesman for CATS II, said in the statement.

Mr. Lofton responded to these attacks by saying the corporation's job is to bring businesses to the county and to get county officials the best possible information so they can make sound decisions.

Infrastructure costs for the stadium, including road work in Anne Arundel County and elsewhere in the state, could reach $70 million, Mr. Morgan said. "The state's also going to have to do their part here," he said. "We're hoping to get a good governor to work with."

Mr. Morgan said his committee will contact state and county officials to verify what road improvements are needed, where they are needed, and their cost before making a final recommendation about who should pay and how the projects will be financed.

Scarlett Breeding, an Annapolis architect and the Trade Council's designated representative on land-use issues, said the proposal also will recommend how the county could help the Redskins increase parking and address environmental concerns. Options include buying more land at the site or finding new satellite lots, she said.

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