Pro-stadium forces plot last-ditch effort to save it

November 23, 1994|By Katherine Richards and John Rivera | Katherine Richards and John Rivera,Sun Staff Writers

Sensing that a proposal for a Redskins football stadium in Laurel is about to die, pro-stadium Anne Arundel business leaders spelled out last night why the project makes economic sense for the county.

"You have to step up and take leadership on this thing," said Dr. Thomas E. Florestano, chairman of an Anne Arundel Trade Council task force that is drafting a report intended to show the economic benefits of the stadium and the feasibility of locating the facility next to the Laurel Park race track.

Dr. Florestano spoke to about 40 business leaders at a meeting at Anne Arundel Community College.

Richard J. Morgan, president of Annapolis National Bank and head of the trade council's economic development committee, said the task force is examining an Oct. 12 decision by the county's administrative hearing officer, Robert C. Wilcox, who rejected the stadium plan.

He said Mr. Wilcox's decision focused on two problems -- insufficient parking and increased traffic -- and that the task force will answer the hearing officer's concerns point by point in a report to County Executive-elect John G. Gary.

The report, which will also detail how road improvements should rTC be paid for by the county and state, will be ready in about three weeks.

If the Redskins can't break ground for a new stadium by April, Mr. Morgan said, it cannot meet team owner Jack Kent Cooke's goal of opening for the 1996 season. If no progress is made toward that goal soon, he said, "I personally think they'll be gone by January."

Michael S. Lofton, executive director of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., said the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. did a preliminary review of the Redskins' tax revenue projections and found them "reasonable."

Andersen is analyzing the economic impact of the stadium in a report that is expected to be ready in early December.

According to the Redskins' estimates, the county would collect nearly $7 million a year, mostly from admissions and property taxes. The state would receive almost $3 million from property and income taxes.

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