Stadium PR drive goes into high gear Glendening offensive uses real quarterback, ex-Governor Hughes

February 13, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith and Thomas W. Waldron | C. Fraser Smith and Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

The Glendening administration goes on the public relations offensive this week to win support for its $200 million football stadium in Baltimore, lining up businessmen, football players and a formernue to press Prince George's County to pay for some of the $73 million the state is committed to spending on roads and parking lots for a new Washington Redskins stadium in Landover.

"We think the stadiums are both good projects for the state, that they will both make more money than [they] will cost eventually," said John W. Frece, a spokesman for Mr. Glendening.

"We believe there is growing momentum in favor of these projects," he said. But just in case, the benefits of the $273 million being spent on the two stadium projects will be hailed in a number of forums by an array of supporters, from Cleveland Browns quarterback Vinny Testaverde to former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes:

* Mr. Hughes will join Mr. Glendening Thursday at the Columbia Inn for breakfast with 50 Washington and Baltimore-area businessmen.

* Five Browns players were scheduled to make a goodwill visit to Baltimore today, stopping at Memorial Stadium as well as a school, community center and restaurant in nearby Waverly.

* Tonight, in the first of a series of forums to be held in communities across the state, John A. Moag Jr. and Bruce H. Hoffman, respectively the chairman and executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, will present their overview of the Baltimore project to a group at Essex Community College.

"Our job is to put all the facts on the table and let people ask all their questions," Mr. Moag said. "Once we do that, we tend to get more supporters."

Mr. Moag said he hopes to use the forums to fully describe the financing and history of the stadium project, going back to the Colts' departure in 1984 and the 1987 state legislation authorizing the Baltimore facility.

And Mr. Moag said he expects to see the opposition: "You tend to get the opponents who come to this type of thing. This should be interesting."

But perhaps not as contentious as Mr. Moag may fear.

"I think some of the ire of the public has simmered down now

that the deal has been consummated," said Del. Kenneth Holt, PTC the Baltimore County Republican who is sponsoring the event.

Last night, John Porcari, a Glendening administration official, joined Joel D. Rozner, a lobbyist for the Washington Redskins, to explain that stadium project to the Bowie City Council in Prince George's County.

And last weekend, James Brady, the state secretary of business and economic development, debated the proposals' merits on a Baltimore television station against two Republican delegates opposed to the proposals, Robert L. Flanagan of Howard County and Jean B. Cryor of Montgomery County.

Mr. Glendening is reminding his Cabinet to spread the good word about all of his initiatives, including the stadiums.

In addition to preaching the gospel of economic development and community feeling associated with professional sports, the goal is to get out "the accurate facts," according to Mr. Hughes.

"One thing that's overlooked is the figures I have heard showing that the taxes attributable to the stadium will be more than enough to pay the debt service," Mr. Hughes said. "It's not taking anything away from anything."

Among those who helped organize the Thursday meeting of Business Leaders Supporting the Stadium are John P. McDonough, a Prince George's County lawyer and lobbyist; Willard Hackerman, the Baltimore builder; and Gary R. Alexander, an Annapolis lobbyist working to sell the stadiums for the Greater Baltimore Committee.

These measures are being taken to generate public support for the legislature's previously granted authority to spend $200 million on the stadium in Baltimore.

The infrastructure for the Redskins stadium in Landover would be underwritten by $73 million in state transportation funds. The stadium itself will be built by Jack Kent Cooke, the owner of the Redskins.

Some legislators are insisting on a contribution from Prince George's County to defray the state's investment there -- just as Baltimore is contributing a $1 million per year plus 80 percent of the admissions tax that would otherwise go to the city.

As of now Prince George's County would contribute nothing to the stadium or its infrastructure.

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