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NO LAURELS FOR REDSKINS IN MARYLAND -- BACK TO OLD D.C.?
Published October 13, 1994
Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke's "six-year odyssey to find a new home for his Washington Redskins was dealt another setback yesterday" as Robert Wilcox, a local administrative hearing officer, released a "sharply worded" decision denying a zoning exemption to build on industry land in Laurel, MD. Wilcox said Cooke's property is "too small for the proposed use" of a 78,600- seat stadium. Wilcox decided the stadium would attract 4,000 more cars than Redskins officials predicted, "overwhelming" area roads. Redskins' traffic estimates of 3.5 ticketholders/car were deemed "without merit" and Wilcox criticized the Redskins for not submitting economic impact studies to prove community benefits from the $160M stadium (Neufeld & Flynn, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/13). Stadium Project Manager Walter Lynch said the team will study whether Wilcox's prediction of 3 ticketholders/car can be accommodated with additional road improvements. Lynch also said the Redskins traffic estimates were based on a plan to require fans to show parking passes or public transport tickets to enter games, encouraging car pools (Dan Beyers, WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). BACK TO DC? Redskins officials filed an appeal "hours after the decision" and Cooke issued a statement calling it "arbitrary and capricious." Cooke said he still intends to "vigorously" pursue a stadium in MD (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/13). But Cooke spoke yesterday with DC mayoral candidate Marion Barry "about keeping the team in [the District] after all." Sources close to the Redskins say the team "probably wants to assess the results of the election before deciding whether to move forward in Laurel or seriously examine other sites" (Dan Beyers, WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). Barry said he will probably meet again with Cooke "sometime next week" and that Cooke asked him yesterday if it would be possible to "overcome the congressional and environmental opposition" that led Cooke to look outside DC last year. Barry: "I'm prepared to do all we can do, including tearing down RFK if necessary." DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said building on the RFK's current site would allow the city to circumvent Hill approval because DC already has rights to the property. Edward Zukoski of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, speaking for groups opposed to building near RFK, called renovating RFK "a win-win situation for the team and the community" (Kovaleski & Henderson, WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). POLITICAL LANDSCAPING: While MD Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a consistent opponent of the Redskins moving to MD, leaves office after this year, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Parris Glendening said he hopes that Cooke "will return to Washington or seek state help in finding a new site." Republican nominee Ellen Sauerbrey said she "wouldn't view this as good riddance. This may be the only way Maryland gets a major league football team." Sauerbrey did say she wouldn't "turn the government upside down" to get the Redskins (Katherine Richards, Baltimore SUN, 10/13). COMMENT: Tony Kornheiser writes, "The pendulum has swung back. The only place you can build a new stadium is where all the stadiums used to be -- in the cities" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). But Michael Wilbon notes that DC "is the last city left dragging its feet" to build a stadium downtown (WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). An editorial in this morning's Baltimore SUN states that Cooke "ought to reconsider staying in Washington" (Baltimore SUN, 10/13). Ken Rosenthal: "Go home, Redskins" (Baltimore SUN, 10/13). Citizens Against the Stadium (CATS II) President Jeanne Mignon said, "Common sense ruled," and added that CATS would continue fund-raising to fight the Redskins appeals. (Katherine Richards, Baltimore SUN, 10/13).