Since all I know is what I read in the paper, it seems that Jack Kent Cooke wants a large, new, domed stadium for the Washington Redskins to play in. About 75,000 seats will do nicely, thank you. And since he made it clear he is "not a gypsy," this large, new, domed stadium -- "The Cooke Jar" -- would be built somewhere in the Washington metropolitan area.
Okay, let's get serious:
Anybody with a gigantic gravel pit, inquire within.
I hope we in the District can keep our hands in The Cooke Jar. The least Marion Barry can do before dismissing the idea of a new stadium -- or a renovated RFK -- is meet with Cooke. Next week Cooke's going to one of the mayor's favorite places, L.A. The mayor loves L.A. He stayed there through two big snows last year. Hizzoner and The Squire can sit in Spago's and discuss stadium sites.
Rock Creek Park. How far backwards are we supposed to bend for bicyclists? The '60s and '70s were about conservation. The '80s and '90s are about entrepreneurs and venture capital. Look, you've seen one tree, you've seen them all. What are we waiting for? Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.
Lorton. It's a trade-off. D.C. says to the Northern Virginia community: You want the Redskins in the neighborhood? You've got to keep the prison.
Capital Centre. Plenty of room. Plenty of rest stops along the way. Park your car at Dulles and take the Concorde-Shuttle courtesy plane out there. Get home in time for the 11 o'clock news.
Irwindale. I know it's in California. Cooke is a rich man. He can move it here. You think the Irwindalians (or whatever they call themselves) wouldn't rather deal with Cooke than Al Davis? Come on, Davis moves around more than Bobby Ross.
Montgomery Auto Park. You can get your car fixed while you watch the game. These guys will give Cooke a great deal on a stadium: White walls. AM-FM/Tape. Factory air. Cellular phone. They'll finance the whole deal for 1.9 percent or give him $700 cash back.
A large, new, domed stadium is for our benefit, of course, because, as Cooke says, "The area deserves a far better facility than it already has." RFK has the third fewest seats in the NFL: 55,000. Cooke could sell 20,000 even quicker than U2.
Not that this is just about seats. Perish the thought. (Benjamin, I've got one word for you, just one word: "skyboxes.") There hasn't been an NFL owner yet who's mentioned the words "large, new, domed stadium" -- or any combination thereof -- without secretly thinking "parking" and "concessions." The hot dogs and beer, that's the nitty-gritty. And Cooke currently doesn't get a sniff of them.
Although he sells out every game and hauls in over $1.2 million at the gate each time -- about $200,000 more than the league average -- Cooke says he loses money at RFK, "not bookkeeping losses, real losses, out-of-pocket losses." (How come every owner in sports says he's losing money, yet NFL franchises are going for $80 million and the lines stretch around the corner to buy one? As to the size of Cooke's pockets, if they were any deeper you could drive a tour bus through them.)
I understand why Cooke wants a new stadium. They're the rage now. Al Davis is getting one. Joe Robbie just got one. William Donald Schaefer wants at least one -- the over/under is four -- and he doesn't even have a football team. (I think a person could get elected president of the United States by promising every voter a new football stadium. Who would pay for these stadiums, that I don't know. I hope it won't be me. If it is, I vote to keep RFK.)
I'm all for new; who's building old stadiums anymore? I'm all for large. Why stop at 75,000? Why not go to 200,000 and give away a telescope with season tickets? Why shouldn't Cooke make a profit -- although with a net worth of more than $600 million one might wonder if enough isn't enough. But spare us the dome. The last thing Washington needs is another cover-up. Let someone else have the Super Bowl. The republic will survive. (As to a playing surface I favor deep, plush, pile carpet, Karistan-Bananastan perhaps, so as not to further aggravate the tender boo-boo on George Rogers' toe.)
I certainly wouldn't want Cooke to move the Redskins outside the city, not even a block. These are the Washington Redskins, not to be confused with the Pontiac Lions, the Anaheim Rams, the East Rutherford Giants and Jets or the Prince George's Bullets. Jack Kent Cooke is a hero in this city, deservedly so, for what he's done with the Redskins and what he wants to do with major league baseball. When he brought the Super Bowl trophy home from Pasadena, he put it in a glass case at Duke Zeibert's, not the Amphora Restaurant in Vienna. The city is the heartbeat of the area. There's nothing quite as stirring in Monday Night Football as that stately shot of the Capitol and the Washington and Lincoln monuments silhouetted in the background of RFK. You can't get that camera angle from Tysons Corner.
Common sense says that men of good will acting in good faith can strike a bargain. Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friends. Work it out.