Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry today praised new Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder for recognizing a fumble when he saw one and abolishing the use of Raljon to refer to the place where the stadium is located.
Curry said the term, which the late Jack Kent Cooke coined in tribute to his sons, Ralph and John, was a "slap in the face" to the residents of Landover and to the county that became the team's home almost three years ago.
"I think Mr. Snyder has done a fabulous job recognizing how important it is to the citizens of Prince George's County that the Redskins be good citizens, too," said Curry (D), who is attending a Maryland Association of Counties conference in this resort town. "There were so many people insulted by the Raljon designation because people who lived in Landover were proud to be in Landover and they were proud to have this prestigious operation."
Curry's comments were his first since Snyder announced he was dropping the name. The county executive has met twice with Snyder since the Bethesda businessman acquired the Redskins and the stadium almost two months ago. They met most recently on Sunday when Curry and his son, Julian, visited Snyder at his office and then traveled with the owner to the team's training camp in Frostburg, Md.
"He seems to me to be very enthusiastic and also straightforward and receptive to considering things that are good for them and for the community," Curry said.
Curry said the two have not talked formally about changes Snyder plans for the stadium.
Snyder said earlier this week that he plans to rename the stadium, dropping Jack Kent Cooke's name. He also said he is seeking permission to open two roads to game-day traffic--Sheriff and Hill Oaks roads.
Curry said Snyder did not ask him about opening the roads, but Curry indicated he would at least consider the proposal.
The County Council also would have to approve any changes to the stadium's operational plan.
Both Curry and council members noted that Snyder is bound by the original agreement between the county and Cooke, which includes hard-fought concessions for the residents most affected by the stadium. The agreement stipulated that a block of tickets be set aside for county residents. It also gave school and community groups the right to operate concession stands in exchange for a portion of the profits.
County Council member Marvin F. Wilson (D-Glenarden), who helped negotiate the perks--which also included scholarship money for local students--said he wants assurance from Snyder that he intends to honor those commitments.
Wilson said he also would oppose any move to reopen either Sheriff or Hill Oaks Road, as Snyder has proposed.
"That is going to be something that is difficult for the council to agree to," he said.
Wilson said the council stipulated in its approval of the stadium deal that Hill Oaks Road never be used as an official entrance onto the site because it would bring too much traffic through the neighboring communities.
As a condition of the agreement, the road was reserved for emergency vehicles only.
A right turn from Sheriff Road into the stadium also was prohibited to discourage stadium traffic from using that road, which also winds through residential neighborhoods.
"We didn't want traffic to be a burden to the communities," Wilson said.
But County Council member Isaac J. Gourdine (D-Fort Washington) said he would at least consider Snyder's proposal.
"If it would help eliminate traffic, it may be a good idea," Gourdine said. "A lot of people are impacted by the roads now. Everyone should share the impact of the traffic."
Both Gourdine and Wilson applauded Snyder for dropping the Raljon name.
"This is a symbol to the community that he is willing to accept the county and the county's name," Gourdine said.