Stadium deal eludes Md. legislators No formula found to make financing more palatable

Glendening, Modell envoy meet

Schaefer says Browns ought to pay more, drop 'seat licenses'

February 15, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith and Thomas W. Waldron | C. Fraser Smith and Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

The governor, legislative leaders and other key players met throughout the day yesterday, but failed to find a formula for winning approval of the administration's plan to spend $273 million on NFL stadiums in Baltimore and Prince George's County.

Representatives of Baltimore team owner Art Modell and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry were among those who met with Gov. Parris N. Glendening and top legislators.

"Everybody is working hard and in good faith," said House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. at the end of the day.

While some of the parties were still getting acquainted with representatives of Mr. Modell, the stadium proposals drew sharp new criticism -- from a man who might have been building public support for them.

Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer criticized both stadium deals and said the legislature should force Mr. Modell to help pay for the Baltimore project.

In his first detailed comments on the issue, Mr. Schaefer said he would not have agreed to the sale of "permanent seat licenses" at the Camden Yards stadium, nor did he approve of taking a National Football League team from a supportive city such as Cleveland.

"I think we gave too much [to Mr. Modell]," Mr. Schaefer said. "I think he got more than he thought he would get."

The comments from the former governor drew a quick rebuttal from a spokesman for Mr. Glendening.

"The proposal that Governor Glendening made to the then-Cleveland Browns is almost exactly the same offer the Schaefer administration made to a variety of teams," said John W. Frece, the spokesman.

at least one case, the Schaefer administration proposal to a team was more expensive than the one Mr. Modell's franchise accepted," he said.

In other stadium developments:

* Representatives of the state's thoroughbred racecourses are pushing a proposal to bring slot-machine gambling to the tracks. In a tight budget year, the tax revenue on the new gambling could help pay for the stadiums and thus sell the projects to the legislature, track representatives said.

* A new coalition was expected to launch a combined anti-tax and anti-stadium effort today. Citizens for Legitimate Investment Priorities, or CLIP, will be co-chaired by one of the leaders of the successful effort to defeat a Redskins stadium proposal in Laurel.

The Glendening administration has proposed spending $200 million to build a stadium in Baltimore for the former Cleveland Browns, as well as $73 million for roads and other infrastructure for the Redskins stadium that team owner Jack Kent Cooke plans to build near Landover.

In meetings the past two days, state officials have discussed a variety of changes in the financing plans for both stadiums.

One would extend the life of the bonds used to pay for the Baltimore stadium, lowering the annual debt service and reducing the amount of instant-lottery proceeds needed for the project.

A key player in the Redskins deal is Mr. Curry, who has resisted efforts to force his county to contribute $23 million toward a parking facility and highway improvements. Some legislators say that Prince George's is obliged to participate in an "equitable" sharing of the costs -- as Baltimore has agreed to do with the Camden Yards project.

Speaker Taylor said he was optimistic a deal could be reached within a week. "I think it's very promising," he said without elaborating.

Earlier in the day, the stadium projects received a withering critique from Mr. Schaefer.

Though still supporting the deal that would bring Mr. Modell's team to Baltimore, Mr. Schaefer said the owner should agree to pay $24 million toward the stadium, as suggested by some members of the General Assembly.

"I think he'll open up and be a little charitable," Mr. Schaefer said at an impromptu press conference after a speech at St. John's College in Annapolis.

A "goodwill" concession would likely ease the proposal's passage through the General Assembly, he said.

After spending eight years trying to return NFL football to Baltimore, Mr. Schaefer has had to watch Mr. Glendening complete the mission in his first year in office. Some critics note that Mr. Glendening failed to invite Mr. Schaefer to be on the dais in November when the coup was announced.

Mr. Schaefer and Mr. Glendening have not been on the best terms since the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, when Mr. Glendening was occasionally critical of his predecessor's governing style.

The former governor said he was invited -- but has declined -- to assist Mr. Glendening in a campaign to promote the two stadium deals.

Mr. Schaefer said he would not be attending a promotional breakfast today in Columbia with Washington and Baltimore-area businessmen.

In his remarks, Mr. Schaefer said he opposed the permanent seat license fees to be charged for some seats. Mr. Modell intends to sell those licenses for as much as $80 million, with the proceeds going to the team's relocation expenses.

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