Negotiations between Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and the D.C. Armory Board about a new football stadium that would keep the Redskins in the District have taken a more positive direction recently, a source familiar with the negotiations said yesterday.

The source said negotiations "are headed toward an agreement that could be signed" before the Redskins' lease for RFK Stadium expires at the end of this season.

Cooke has said he is willing to build a facility with his own money that sources have said would accommodate 72,000 to 78,000 seats and be built on what is now RFK Stadium's Parking Lot 6.

But in mid-October, the source familiar with the negotiations said the talks had become snagged when Cooke again raised the issue of filling in a portion of nearby Kingman Lake, an offshoot of the Anacostia River, in order to accommodate new parking spaces. In addition, the source said Cooke requested year-round control of all parking lots that serve RFK Stadium and the Armory and would serve the new stadium. The source had characterized each request as a potential "deal-breaker."

Yesterday, however, the source said Cooke has "backed off" both requests and there have been "more meaningful negotiations lately." Cooke said "the negotiations have always gone well. They still are" going well.

So far, though, Mayor-Elect Sharon Pratt Dixon has not been involved in the negotiations, said Pam Taylor, the press secretary for Dixon's transition organization.

It is believed the project will not receive the required approval of the Interior Department unless Dixon approves a deal between Cooke and the current Armory Board, which is chaired by Mayor Marion Barry.