Redskins might abandon plan to build stadium in Maryland

October 24, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

With talks to build a stadium in Prince George's County on the verge of collapse, the Washington Redskins may be poised to abandon Maryland altogether and resume searching for a deal in Washington or Virginia, a team representative said.

Weeks of sometimes difficult talks between the team and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry culminated over the weekend in a proposed memorandum of agreement that the county termed its final offer and that the team has rejected.

"It looks like we're very much at an impasse," said Gerard Evans, an attorney-lobbyist for the team. Mr. Evans said Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke has drafted a news release announcing a decision to leave Maryland, but is "going to sleep on it" and possibly call Gov. Parris N. Glendening to see if the state can offer more funding.

Several sources familiar with the talks said that the two sides are not that far apart and that the team may be posturing to put pressure on the county to make more concessions. But Mr. Evans said the team and county were far apart on significant issues. Prince George's County's chief negotiator, William B. "Billy" Miller, expressed little interest in further compromise.

Over the past six years, Mr. Cooke at various times has declared he was moving his team to new stadiums at five sites: two in the district, one in Virginia and two in Maryland. The team plays at RFK Stadium in Washington.

Mr. Miller said late yesterday that he had not received an official response to the Friday offer. "We really think we made some significant concessions in trying to get this done, but we're using the interest of Prince George's County as a measuring stick," he said. "Our view is, the best offer we could make was presented to them on Friday."

But, Mr. Evans said, "We've rejected it."

The offer, sent by fax to Mr. Cooke at 10:25 p.m. Friday, tried to steer a middle ground between the county's preference to lease the county-owned site to the team and the Redskins' demands to own the property outright.

The offer gave the team the option of buying at fair-market value the land directly under the stadium or buying 200 of the 300 acres, also at market prices.

The county bought the 300-acre Wilson Farm site at Landover, inside the Washington Beltway, for $6.2 million earlier this year -- about $2 million below its appraised value, Mr. Miller said. Also, county-approved zoning changes that permit a stadium on the site have enhanced its value, Mr. Miller said. But the team doesn't want to pay premium prices, he said.

Moreover, the two sides disagree on who will pay which portions of an estimated $72 million in infrastructure costs. The state, with some reimbursement from the county, has offered to build roads leading up to the site, as well as some on the site. Mr. Cooke would be responsible for the bulk of the sewers, utilities and landscaping -- tens of millions of dollars' worth of work.

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