P.G. executive proposes tax on Redskins tickets Curry suggests surcharge of $2-$3 to help defray state costs for stadium

February 09, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Frank Langfitt contributed to this article.

Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry proposed yesterday adding a $2 to $3 surcharge on tickets at the Redskins stadium to help defray the state's cost in the project.

The surcharge represents Mr. Curry's first counterproposal to legislators demanding that Prince George's absorb some of the state's infrastructure costs for the Redskins stadium.

Under Mr. Curry's proposal, the county still escapes paying anything for the stadium, while fans would end up paying more.

By imposing a new fee on tickets, "infrastructure costs would be shifted from taxpayers to users of the facility, thus allocating responsibility where it belongs," Mr. Curry said in a letter sent yesterday to Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

"More importantly for the citizens of Prince George's County, the alternative financing proposal protects our scant fiscal resources," Mr. Curry said.

Mr. Curry's strategy, though, received a cool response from legislative leaders in Annapolis.

"I personally don't like the idea," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a key Redskins stadium proponent who represents Prince George's. "You can call it a user fee or any other name, but in my opinion it's a tax."

Mr. Cooke has agreed to spend his own money to build a 78,600-seat stadium near Landover if the state spends $73 million on related road and infrastructure improvements.

Mr. Curry's proposed ticket surcharge of $2 or $3 would be used to repay $23 million of the state's projected cost. The rest of the state's share would come from state transportation funds.

Under the deal that was negotiated by Mr. Curry with the Redskins, Prince George's pays nothing for the stadium and will reap extra benefits such as a recreation center and scholarship funds paid for in part by Mr. Cooke.

Many legislators, though, say that Prince George's makes out too well in the deal. And legislators are now searching for ways to reduce the state's Redskins contribution as well as its share of the proposed $200 million Baltimore stadium.

Some key lawmakers have settled on the idea of taking most of the admissions tax revenue the Redskins stadium will generate -- money that would normally flow to Prince George's -- and using it to repay some of the state's costs.

Mr. Curry has strongly resisted that idea so far, saying the fiscally pinched county needs all the money the stadium will generate.

A spokesman for the governor said Mr. Glendening would consider Mr. Curry's idea along with many other financing suggestions advanced by legislators.

"At the proper time, the governor intends to sift through these proposals to see what the answer should be," said spokesman John W. Frece.

Joel D. Rozner, a lobbyist for the Redskins, said the team has not taken a position on Mr. Curry's proposal, although he noted the surcharge was not part of the initial agreement negotiated between the team, the county and the state.

"We haven't had a chance to talk about this proposal," Mr. Rozner said.

One stadium critic applauded Mr. Curry's idea as a step in the right direction.

"I credit Wayne Curry because he's in a tight position," said Del. D. Bruce Poole, a Democrat from Hagerstown and one of the leaders of the group of lawmakers fighting both stadiums. "There's not a lot of money in Prince George's County right now."

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. declined to comment on the proposal, saying he needed time to digest it.

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