The house that Cooke built Redskins stadium: It's a pity the man, love him or not, won't see his monument dedicated.

September 14, 1997

JACK KENT COOKE STADIUM, which opens today, is not an architectural tour-de-force. The project -- just inside the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County -- is not intended to rejuvenate downtown, like the MCI Arena in Washington or the baseball-football complex at Camden Yards. It also does not fall into the category -- some would say to its credit -- of many #F stadiums these days: publicly financed structures built to lure a team or keep one from moving.

Jack Kent Cooke Stadium is a monument one man built to himself, which, unfortunately, he never got to see. Mr. Cooke died in April at age 84. He was an irascible tycoon who tried to block the return of the National Football League to Baltimore. Still, it's a pity he won't be in the owner's box today, basking in the company of politically powerful and famous friends. His quest for a stadium site was as checkered and bizarre as his marital life.

Though Mr. Cooke footed the $180 million bill for the stadium, built in a breathless 18 months, he got $70.5 million from taxpayers for roads and infrastructure. Because Maryland is one state that often behaves like two, Gov. Parris N. Glendening leveraged a new stadium for Baltimore last year by paving the way, literally, for a second one in the D.C. suburbs.

Starting today, a state which a few years ago had zero NFL teams and zero preseason training camps, can claim two of each. Thanks to Mr. Cooke's ego, it also adds a new postal zip code for Raljon, Md., which contains no permanent residents but does feature a massive monument to the popularity of professional sports.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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