Curry Withdraws Offer to Sell Site for Stadium

By Terry M. Neal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 1995; Page B03

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Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry has rescinded a proposal to sell public property in Landover for construction of a football stadium after rejection of the offer by Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

Cooke's rejection of Curry's proposal and Curry's decision to take the offer off the bargaining table have effectively brought negotiations to a standstill. Although both sides say talks could resume, it wasn't clear whether that would happen.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Cooke said he had not given up on Prince George's as a stadium site but has begun negotiations with District and Virginia state officials. He would not discuss the nature of those negotiations.

Glenda Wilson, Curry's senior adviser, said: "Negotiations can be continued. We're not closing the door. . . . We don't have anything on paper from Mr. Cooke except to say he doesn't like our proposal."

Curry is unable to continue negotiations, Wilson said, because Cooke hadn't outlined in writing specific problems or presented counterproposals.

On Oct. 21, Curry sent Cooke a "letter of intent" to sell the team owner part of the Wilson Farm property.

In a two-sentence reply dated Oct. 26, Cooke rejected Curry's offer without offering details.

"I thank you for your note of Oct. 21 attached to your letter of intent," Cooke wrote to Curry. "Upon studying it, I must say it is unacceptable in its present form."

Curry sent a reply to Cooke Tuesday. "Because the county's letter of intent has been rejected by you, the county's proposal is nullified," Curry wrote. "However, if you wish to discuss that proposal, or send a counter-proposal advancing a palatable way to facilitate the Washington Redskins' relocation to Prince George's County, I remain available to you at your earliest convenience."

The two sides have been at an impasse for about a week and a half, but only recently have they put that in writing.

Cooke has been trying since the summer to get the necessary approvals to build a 78,600-seat football stadium on the tract in Landover. The county and state bought the property this year for $6.2 million.

Curry has offered to sell Cooke the property at market value, to be determined by a mutually agreed upon appraiser. But the two haven't been able to agree on several issues, including who will pay for millions of dollars of improvements on the property.

Cooke has said he will not build unless the county or state pays for the improvements, the cost of which he estimates at $23 million. Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) has said the state will pay for $50 million of road and other improvements around the site but not on it.

Last week, Glendening and County Council Chairwoman Anne T. MacKinnon (D-3rd District) pushed a plan for the county to finance the on-site improvements through revenue bonds and pay off the bonds with tax revenue generated by the stadium. Curry rejected that idea. He said all the estimated $7.7 million in county taxes generated by the stadium should go into the county general treasury.

Under MacKinnon's plan, about $2 million each year would go to pay off the bonds.

MacKinnon met with Cooke Monday and said the talks went well. But, she said, "I didn't have the authority to make any deal."

In another development, state officials have asked the National Football League to delay until later this year a vote on whether to grant a franchise to Baltimore, apparently out of concern over the wording of the NFL resolution. A vote had been scheduled next week.

In September, Glendening sent a letter advising the NFL that state bonding authority to finance a new stadium in Baltimore would expire in December if the league did not commit a team.

An NFL committee proposed that the league guarantee Baltimore a franchise if a stadium is built.

Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John A. Moag Jr., who could not be reached by telephone last night, requested the delay Tuesday. "We respectfully request that you defer consideration of the specific resolution, which has been provided to us, until later in the calendar year," Moag wrote to the NFL.

Staff writer Robert E. Pierre contributed to this report.

© Copyright 1995 The Washington Post Company

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