Frostburg's `Cooke-out'

Mock celebration: Town deserved better from Redskins, but it could profit from proposed racetrack.

July 27, 2000

THEY ROASTED the Washington Redskins last weekend in the Western Maryland community of Frostburg and tried to put a good face on a distressing situation.

Gone are the Redskins and their training camp at Frostburg State University, a loss of millions of dollars to the local economy. New owner Daniel Snyder kept his team at its practice site in Northern Virginia, where he can milk fans for $10 admission and $20 parking fees.

But rather than seethe over Mr. Snyder's poor manners (he walked out on the lease without warning), townsfolk gathered for what they called the "Jack Kent Cooke-out," named in honor of the late team owner who had brought his team to Frostburg in 1995. The cookout symbolized the community's commitment to finding other, friendlier ways to boost the town's fortunes.

That should not include snatching the Baltimore Ravens away from their camp at Western Maryland College in Westminster. Why start a nasty regional spat and a senseless bidding war?

Better that Frostburg rally around more permanent economic growth, such as the proposed racetrack just outside town. This could mean lots of cash for local businesses year-round.

If the Maryland Racing Commission picks Frostburg over a rival site in isolated Little Orleans, a three-week racing season could mean a steady influx of visitors to restaurants, taverns and hostelries. Track personnel could stay in university dorms.

The rest of the year, Frostburg would play host to those visiting the track's restaurant and off-track betting rooms, equestrian events and other promotions.

So all is not bleak. The university is bustling with its biggest freshman class. Growth in FSU's student population is likely to continue. The community has "true grit," as one official put it.

Frostburg's leaders wisely are looking toward the future, not languishing bitterly in the past.

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