Several delegates to seek changes in deal between Md., new Baltimore football team Their goal is to derail city stadium project

February 28, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

In the first of many State House showdowns over the stadium issue, several members of the House of Delegates were expected to push for changes today in the deal between the Maryland Stadium Authority and Baltimore's new football team.

They argue that a bill forcing team owner Art Modell to pay $24 million toward the cost of the $200 million project doesn't go far enough.

One amendment, to be offered by Del. Leon G. Billings, a Montgomery Democrat, would force the team to pay interest on the $24 million until it is paid to the state.

Other legislators may offer an amendment that would prohibit the team from receiving any proceeds from the sale of the facility's name -- something now under consideration by the stadium authority.

While the opponents' ultimate goal is to derail the Baltimore stadium project -- as well as a new Washington Redskins stadium proposed for Landover -- they are focusing for now on improving the deals for the state.

"Getting some money back is better than nothing," said Del. Robert L. Flanagan, a Howard Republican and leading opponent of the stadiums.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. said he would fight any amendments to force a larger contribution from Mr. Modell. If lawmakers demand too much, he suggested, the stadium deal could fall apart.

"The question is, how far can this legislature push the envelope and get away with it?" said Mr. Taylor, an Allegany Democrat.

A $24 million contribution from Mr. Modell, the speaker said, "goes far enough for me, and I think it goes far enough for most of the members of this House."

After weeks of offstage wrangling, the House of Delegates cast the first State House vote on the stadium issue yesterday. Pro-stadium forces prevailed on a procedural matter, 67-61, with 13 members not voting.

"It shows what we already knew -- it's a closely contested issue," Mr. Flanagan said.

Meanwhile, efforts to conclude a revised financing deal for the proposed Redskins stadium in Prince George's County remained unresolved yesterday.

While all parties -- the state, Prince George's County and the Redskins -- remain in agreement about the key financial components of the deal, several "technical" disputes must still be solved, according to Redskins lobbyist Gerard E. Evans.

Baltimore officials said they still are waiting for a firm proposal from Gov. Parris N. Glendening for making up the city's expected loss of about $13 million in state transportation funds.

Under a revised revenue-sharing formula agreed to by the governor, that money would go to the counties. Prince George's is counting on using its share of the windfall to help pay its costs of the Redskins stadium project.

Baltimore officials said they expect Mr. Glendening to honor his commitment to find new revenue for the city to make up for the loss.

"The governor has never misled me," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said this week.

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