Curry firm on stadium deal Prince George's chief seeks favorable terms

March 12, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

Speaking calmly and confidently, though sometimes angrily, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry said yesterday he won't be goaded into accepting unsatisfactory terms from the Washington Redskins as the team pushes to build a stadium in Landover.

Because he has been unbending in his negotiating stance, he said, "insiders" in the General Assembly are "punishing" his county. About $9 million that might have gone to Prince George's libraries and mass transit projects was denied last week after legislative grumbling that the county was getting a major public works project while refusing to contribute sufficiently to its cost.

"By what tortured logic could that [the denial of funds for libraries and mass transit] become an expression of concern about the stadium?" he asked.

The Glendening administration has proposed spending $70.5 million on a parking garage and roads for the stadium, which is to be built with about $165 million in private funds by Jack Kent Cooke, the Redskins owner. Mr. Curry has committed $12.5 million to the project.

In Annapolis to be confirmed as a member of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission, Mr. Curry said during an interview that he recognizes that legislators criticize him for refusing to make what they deem a satisfactory contribution to the costs and for blocking an agreement on construction plans.

"I recall someone saying I should be down here begging," Mr. Curry said.

"But I'm not coming down here begging. I'm not coming down here washing cars. And I'm not coming down here shining shoes. I'm trying my level best to run one of the biggest jurisdictions in the state."

A man in search of a delicate political and governmental balance, Mr. Curry said: "The stadium is important for insiders, but not for the citizens. We're trying to get the resources to make a good county even better, not to mud wrestle."

Legislative pique arises because Mr. Curry seems to be turning up his nose at state spending that most delegates and senators can only dream about for their districts.

He smiled, though, at a comment about the strong hand he's holding: His county owns the land the stadium will be built on. "I still have to sign some kind of deal if we're going to have one,

don't I? I would think so."

For those who say he doesn't know how Annapolis works -- and could lose in the long run -- Mr. Curry said he understands the power game only too well. With less leverage than he has now, Prince George's legislators had accepted less state aid than the county deserves, he said.

"Shabby mistreatment," he says of the county's past experience in Annapolis.

"We don't have money, and we certainly don't have money to front-end a project of that magnitude," he said of the stadium.

As he waits, however, the pressure on him to settle seems likely to grow.

Detailed yesterday in gloomy revenue projections, the state's troublesome fiscal situation could compound the difficulty of finding the money, legislators said.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has promised to restore $13 million that Baltimore stands to lose in a transfer of highway funds benefiting suburban counties. It is a transfer of transportation funds that Mr. Curry would use to pay his county's share of the Landover stadium costs.

Is that money still available?

"There's going to be additional pressure to try to address some ** of the needs of Baltimore City," said Baltimore Del. Howard P. Rawlings, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

"There are going to be a lot of problems we have to solve."

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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