A task force of Marylanders trying to keep the Capitals and Bullets from moving to Washington met for an hour yesterday and reviewed the feasibility of the financing proposal now before the District of Columbia city council.
Abe Pollin, owner of the sports teams, signed on Monday a
memorandum of understanding with district business leaders calling for the teams to relocate from Landover to a publicly financed arena to be built in Washington.
For the project to be accomplished, political leaders of the city will have to provide $18 million to cover up-front costs and $9 million a year in bond payments. Some of the bond payments will be defrayed by arena revenue when it opens.
The deal, based on an arrangement agreed to by the city of Cleveland for an arena there, is potentially very profitable for the team owner, and Maryland leaders says they hope the district city council will view it as a taxpayer subsidy of the teams and reject it.
"Maryland continues and will continue to conduct its own studies and develop its own strategies as it relates to the arena in Prince George's County," Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-5th, said in a written statement issued after the meeting, held yesterday in the Largo Government Center.
John Davey, a chief negotiator for Prince George's County, where the state is trying to keep the teams playing, said committee members were told of the pressures that will be on the district political leaders as they try to pass the measure before the exclusive negotiating clause of the memorandum of understanding runs out, in about a month.
Also attending the meeting were Rep. Albert R. Wynn, a Maryland Democrat in whose district the teams now play, heads of civic associations and business and political leaders from the Landover area.
One participant in the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the possibility of Congress rejecting the deal as part of its district oversight was raised, but downplayed in the meeting.