Suburban officials, saying they would not allow Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to lure them into a "bidding war," pledged yesterday to support the efforts of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry to keep the Redskins in the District.

The officials signaled their desire to present a united front to Cooke, who has threatened to move his team to the suburbs if the city does not build a replacement for Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, during a meeting at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' offices.

"A good businessman would be acting exactly the way Mr. Cooke has been acting," said Fairfax County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert, who has been working with the District to explore alternatives for a new stadium. "However, I do think that some people tend to underestimate the degree of solidarity in this region when it comes to helping each other out."

The meeting included representatives from Fairfax, Prince William and Montgomery counties and the City of Alexandria. Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening, who did not attend, sent a statement of support.

It was, however, a fragile coalition. Just hours after Prince William Supervisor Edwin C. King (D-Dumfries) joined the chorus of support, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors overruled him, voting 4-to-3 to oppose a COG resolution supporting the District's efforts to keep the Redskins in the city.

But most suburban officials seemed solidly behind Barry and Fairfax County Chairman John F. Herrity, who announced plans at the meeting to study the possibility of a "public/private partnership" to build a new football stadium in the District.

Both men described the plan as a regionwide undertaking that would involve representatives of the city and its suburbs, much as they already cooperate on matters relating to water, sewage, trash disposal, law enforcement and the Metro system.

Barry and Herrity offered few concrete details about the structure of the partnership or the role -- beyond that of "technical assistance" -- that suburban governments might realistically play in helping the District build a new stadium.

But their proposal, and the reaction to it, was an unusual turn of events.

After Cooke hinted in August that he might consider moving the Redskins to the suburbs, officials from around the metropolitan area expressed interest in hosting the team. At the meeting yesterday, suburban officials were sounding a different theme, one of cooperation instead of competition.

Ed Rovner, special assistant to Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer, said: "Mr. Kramer has had a policy since the very beginning of 'Don't beggar thy neighbor.' " Glendening submitted a statement that said in part: "Prince George's County joins with the District of Columbia and our neighboring suburban jurisdictions in the desire to keep the Redskins in Washington."

Carol Thompson, the deputy mayor for economic development in the District, suggested that some suburbs may have bowed out of the competition after taking a closer look at the cost, estimated at from $100 million to $200 million. "When you really start looking at it, you're talking about a lot of money," she said.

"Reality faced us," conceded Tim Ayers, a spokesman for Glendening. Ayers attributed the early enthusiasm of some county board members to the "first blush of excitement" that accompanied Cooke's announcement that he would consider moving the team.

Other suburban officials said they would still consider a new stadium, but emphasized that they would do so only after the District had exhausted all of its options. "If that didn't work out, then it would be jump ball," Herrity said. "Obviously they are going to need a home in the metropolitan area."

He added, "What we want to do is head off a bidding war among jurisdictions. If everyone is agreed that they won't be involved in a bidding war, {Cooke} won't have that kind of leverage."

Cooke denied yesterday that he was trying to trigger a contest between the District and its suburbs.

"We have not approached any of the surrounding counties," he said in an interview. "Those that have had discussions have all volunteered . . . . There is no intention on my part ever to play the counties against the District nor in reverse. My first inclination is to see the stadium built in the District of Columbia."

Cooke has said that RFK Stadium, which seats 55,000 for football, is too small. He has expressed his desire for a 75,000-seat domed facility with a retractable roof.

Some officials have suggested that a domed stadium, while more costly than an open-air facility, could pay for itself more easily because it could be used for conventions and other special events. Cooke has pointed out that it also would make the city eligible as a site for the Super Bowl.

Under the proposal announced yesterday, city and suburban officials would collaborate on a study to determine the desired capacity for a new stadium, the types of events that could be held there and possible sites. The next phase would examine financing mechanisms, which officials said could take any number of forms.

A key unanswered question is the extent of public participation. Among the options presented yesterday were tax-exempt bonds, a direct cash contribution, a grant of land on which to build a stadium, a reduced or free lease, or any combination of the options.

Public/private partnerships are an increasingly popular means of financing new stadiums, as financially strapped cities struggle to hold onto professional sports franchises without placing an undue burden on taxpayers. One possible way to raise private funds for a new stadium would be to sell luxury skyboxes, which have sold for up to $1 million each at some arenas.

Herrity, who is facing reelection on Nov. 3 and is lagging in the polls behind Democratic challenger Audrey Moore, has been among the most ardent champions of a regional effort to build a new stadium. He has said, however, that he does not expect Fairfax taxpayers to help pay for it.

For a time yesterday it appeared that all the suburbs had reached a rare moment of agreement. "We're certainly not here to bid for a new stadium," Prince William County Supervisor King said at the meeting. "We recognize the problems in saying we want it in Prince William County."

But the full board quickly made it clear that unanimity among the suburbs can be a fleeting thing. Supervisor G. Richard Pfitzner (D-Coles) complained that Fairfax and the District have not been cooperative on issues relating to the prison, landfill and incinerator at Lorton, just over the border.

"I think we ought to have a free-trade policy," Pfitzner said. "We get nothing from them, we ought to send nothing back." Besides, he said, it is almost impossible for Prince William residents to get tickets to games anyway. Staff writer John F. Harris contributed to this report.