Lawmakers want Modell to put up funds Prince George's Co. also would be asked for stadium money

February 08, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell would have to kick in some $24 million toward the cost of the proposed Camden Yards football stadium under legislation supported by key lawmakers in the House of Delegates.

The legislators are also planning a measure that would force Prince George's County to chip in about $35 million to help defray the state's contribution to the proposed Washington Redskins stadium near Landover.

The changes are necessary, supporters said, to win over many legislators worried about committing $273 million in state funds to the two stadium projects in a tight budget year.

Even with the proposed change in the financing for the $200 million Baltimore stadium, Mr. Modell would receive a good deal from the state, lawmakers said.

"We're still going to put up the vast majority of the money for a first-class stadium," said Del. Michael E. Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat.

The proposed legislation was being drafted by delegates yesterday and could be introduced as early as this week.

While several legislators have already proposed modifying the two stadium deals, the new House measures would be the most significant to date because they enjoy the support of several committee chairmen and a tacit endorsement from House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.

"They believe these bills are helpful to the goal that we're after, which is to approve both of these stadium projects," said Mr. Taylor, a Democrat from Cumberland.

Under the agreement negotiated between the Browns and the Maryland Stadium Authority, Mr. Modell is to contribute nothing to the construction of his new stadium, although he would reap most of the profits it generates.

Many lawmakers have now focused their objections to the deal on the Maryland Stadium Authority's financing plan, which calls for spending $32 million a year in state lottery proceeds for the next three years.

That $32 million figure is roughly $8 million higher than what the state has generated each of the last several years from "instant," sports-related lotteries authorized by the legislature for the Camden Yards project in 1987.

"There are a lot of people down here who feel strongly that this amounts to raiding the General Fund," Mr. Busch said.

So legislators now want to require Mr. Modell to make up the difference over the next three years by contributing $24 million.

One option would allow Mr. Modell to borrow the $24 million from the state and repay it from stadium proceeds over a period of years.

Mr. Modell, who is attending the National Football League owners meeting in Chicago, where his planned move to Baltimore will come up for a vote, was unavailable for comment last night.

He has said that he would be willing to consider changes to his deal with the state if needed to ensure legislative approval.

Legislators in Annapolis have also stepped up their complaints about Prince George's County's lack of contributions toward the Redskins stadium.

The state has agreed to contribute $73 million in road and infrastructure improvements, while Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke has agreed to build the stadium himself.

The House leaders are expected to propose taking 80 percent of the proceeds from admissions taxes at the Redskins stadium away from the county and dedicating them to repayment of about a third of the state's share of the project.

In addition, the lawmakers want to require Prince George's County to pay for any improvements to county roads needed for the stadium, which could add about $10 million to the county's share, Mr. Busch said.

"We don't think it's fair for Prince George's County not to contribute any of their resources to bring this sizable economic development project to their area," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat who heads the House Appropriations Committee.

Reggie Parks, a spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, said Mr. Curry will consider any proposals from the General Assembly for modifying the Redskins deal.

"His bottom line is that it has to be good for the citizens of Prince George's County," Mr. Parks said.

But Stephen J. Del Guidice, chairman of the Prince George's County Council, said yesterday that he objects to talk in Annapolis of modifying the Redskins deal.

"I understand there are some folks in the state who don't like the fact that we're getting all of this money," Mr. Del Guidice said. "But there are many other times when other jurisdictions have gotten this kind of support for projects."

Dianna D. Rosborough, press secretary to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, said the governor would not react until he saw the proposals in writing.

"We will take a look at the changes and discuss how we feel about them" at that time, Mrs. Rosborough said.

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