A group of Laurel residents yesterday announced it is forming a citizens' group to support construction of a privately funded NFL stadium next to the Laurel Race Course.
"We're kind of a rah-rah group," said D. Craig Horn, chairman of Citizens for a Planned Stadium in Laurel.
Mr. Horn, 49, served on the Laurel City Council from 1974 until 1979, when he moved to Howard County.
He said the group's main goal is to let Maryland officials and the Redskins organization know that "there is strong grass-roots support for a stadium in Laurel."
He said a well-planned stadium would bring jobs, tax revenues, improved roads and community pride to Laurel.
A key factor, he said, in his group's push for a Laurel stadium to house the Washington Redskins is that the $160 million stadium would be paid for out of team owner Jack Kent Cooke's pockets. A proposed stadium in Baltimore, to house a relocated NFL team, would cost about the same, but would be publicly financed.
"I think that $150 million of mine could be better used for schools and roads," Mr. Horn said.
A press release issued yesterday by his group said it will work to involve local residents in stadium planning and to "counter negativism and misinformation campaigns."
"I do believe that some of the CATS [Citizens Against the Stadium II] press releases have been misleading," Mr. Horn said.
CATS, a citizens' group fighting the stadium, claims over 2,000 members.
Mr. Horn cited as an example a Feb. 7 CATS news release accusing the Cooke organization of conducting "an orchestrated misinformation campaign" while giving out little substantiated information.
"They've given them as much substantiated data as could exist" at such an early stage of planning, Mr. Horn said of the Redskins.
Don Burgess, CATS president, said he wasn't surprised to hear about the formation of Mr. Horn's group. "It's a tactic that we fully expect," he said. "We expect worse, actually. This is only the beginning."
Mr. Horn said his group was formed when a steering committee of about 10 people met at his home Feb. 10. He said they will meet this week to begin planning activities, including pro-stadium rallies.