Signatures are missing to complete Redskins deal Issues between Cooke and Curry still unresolved

March 08, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

Legislation that provides $70.5 million for a Washington Redskins football stadium is moving smartly toward approval in the Senate, but a critical agreement between the team's owner and Prince George's County remains unsigned.

The deal seemed all but done 10 days ago when Jack Kent Cooke, the Redskins owner, and Wayne K. Curry, the Prince George's county executive, made major financial concessions.

Since then, legislative approval for the spending, once in doubt, has been granted by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation. It is expected to come before the full Senate by the middle of next week, although its prospects would be poor if the agreement were not completed by then.

No money can be spent unless there is a signed agreement that sets forth the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Gov. Parris N. Glendening and various others have tried repeatedly to obtain the necessary signatures.

The two sides have been unable to dispose of a list of Mr. Curry's concerns that, some close to the negotiations say, changes and grows daily. They have disagreed over matters ranging from the design of signs to disposal of the stadium property should the project in Landover be abandoned.

Nevertheless, an aide to Mr. Glendening said yesterday, the governor remains "optimistic." "We don't think there are a lot of issues remaining," said John W. Frece, the governor's communications director.

A lobbyist for Mr. Cooke, Gerard E. Evans, said the owner remains confident.

"It's too good a deal to pass over," he said.

Mr. Curry has seemed willing to risk the loss of the stadium because it is not a popular use of public money. And because his county owns the land, he has been able to drive a hard bargain.

Some legislators have grumbled that Prince George's was getting a major public works project in the stadium while refusing to contribute to its cost. But its prospects improved dramatically 10 days ago when Mr. Curry committed $12.5 million and Mr. Cooke added $2.5 million to $160 million he had pledged to build the facility.

Resentment remains: $2 million for libraries in Prince George's and $7 million for subway construction were denied by the Budget and Taxation Committee this week. Though other reasons were offered, Mr. Curry is the "underlying" factor, said Sen. Ulysses Currie, a Prince George's Democrat.

Asked if the loss of library and subway funds will make Mr. Curry more likely to sign, Senator Currie said, "I think the county executive is not going to be intimidated."

Mr. Currie's view: "The stadium notwithstanding, Prince George's County has a lot of needs."

Meanwhile, Maryland's other NFL team owner, Art Modell, has hired a Cleveland firm to prepare new practice fields near Baltimore for his NFL team, turning down at least two Maryland companies.

S. W. Franks Construction was chosen because Mr. Modell is familiar with its work, team spokesman David Hopcraft said.

The Ohio company will hire Baltimore area workers and buy Maryland products for the turf job, he said. Mr. Frece said five Maryland companies will share the work: a Salisbury sod farm and four Baltimore area companies -- a construction company, a plumber, an irrigation company and a heavy equipment company.

Pub Date: 3/08/96

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