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At a news conference yesterday, Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke announced that he has "abandoned" efforts to build a new stadium in Laurel, MD, (Anne Arundel County) and is now focusing on sites in Prince George's County, MD. According to Cooke, his interest in Prince George's ranges from accessible roads to a "large amount of undeveloped land" that "virtually ensures that he can find a site that will not spark the intense local outcry that has sunk most of his prior bids" (John Mercurio, WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/4). Cooke is also "counting on" a much more "supportive political environment" than he faced in Anne Arundel. Gov. Parris Glendening, who opposed the Laurel site, "has given strong signals that he would support a stadium" in Prince George's (Michael Abramowitz, WASHINGTON POST, 4/4).
When Tampa Bay was awarded an expansion franchise last month, MLB owners gave the city a deadline of April 30 to submit a signed lease to MLB. With that deadline 25 days away, Devil Rays Managing General Partner Vince Naimoli is "upset that elected officials have not worked out a deal to make improvements to the ThunderDome." It is estimated that the Dome needs about $20M to prepare it for the Rays' '98 season -- which would cover dugouts, clubhouses, scoreboards and artificial turf. But the problem is an "additional" $20M, which came up during recent lease negotiations between the city and the team. Naimoli, who would "not explain" what the extra money would go towards, said local officials "have known of these costs for at least a month." Naimoli was unsure of what will happen if the deadline is not met: "If you don't have a stadium that conforms to baseball specifications, what's the alternative?" (Seaton, Topkin & Davey, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/4). According to St. Petersburg city attorney Mike Davis, the city plans to file an application for state money tomorrow. If granted, the "special state sales tax fund" would "guarantee" $2M a year for 30 years or the city "probably" could receive $20-25M "all at once" (Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/4).