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Laurel residents grill experts on proposed Redskins stadium


For two weeks, Laurel area residents have listened to the experts testify about a proposed National Football League stadium in their neighborhood. Yesterday, they had their turn to grill the gurus and voice their opinions.

"Where is the need for the stadium?" asked Ray Szyperski of Maryland City.

The 78,600-seat stadium the Redskins want to build on industrially zoned land next to Laurel Race course won't meet the needs of the thousands of people waiting for Redskins tickets, he argued, because most of the increased capacity would be devoted to expensive club seats and skyboxes.

Walter Lynch, the Redskins stadium project manager, said he would testify about need later in the hearing. He said during a break that there is a need for an NFL franchise in the Baltimore-Washington region because of its many football fans and that the Redskins need a new stadium to remain in the region because they are losing money in their current home at RFK Stadium in Washington.

"I believe that this is the kind of project that will benefit residents of Maryland . . . especially the construction industry," said James Forsythe, a construction worker from Darnestown.

About 60 people attended the session at Meade Senior High School, part of the continuing public hearing on the $160 million stadium.

The Redskins are seeking a special exception to build the stadium. They also need several variances from county codes on matters such as parking, landscaping and time allowed for project completion.

Clare Warnagiris of Laurel Highlands asked Mr. Lynch if rock concerts would be held at the stadium.

Mr. Lynch said that up to two concerts a year would be held there, but there would be "no Grateful Dead-type concerts."

After the hearing, he said that meant no concerts that could be a nuisance to the surrounding community. He said an advisory board may be created to help decide what concerts would be allowed.

D. Craig Horn, chairman of Citizens for a Planned Stadium in Laurel, asked if the stadium would be available to community groups and school teams.

Mr. Lynch said it could be used for high school championships and all-star games.

Stadium supporters and opponents also took the opportunity to plead their cases.

"With the tax cap, we're hurting, and as far as I'm concerned, the Redskins' offer is one of the best things that have happened to Anne Arundel County," said Marie Cook, a Severn resident who works in Laurel.

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