Stadium plan opens P.G., Baltimore rift City's legislators far more supportive of state financing; 2 would be built for football; Delegations agree that they need each other's backing

THE BALTIMORE SUN

With few exceptions, Baltimore legislators support spending $273 million in state funds to help build two football stadiums, but their colleagues in Prince George's County remain opposed or unpersuaded.

A proposal by Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to spend $160 million of his own money on a new stadium in Prince George's -- assisted by $73 million in state funds -- has won support from seven of the county's 29 legislators, a survey by The Sun found last week.

Five of the 29 lawmakers said they supported Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposal for the state to build a $200 million stadium to lure the Cleveland Browns to downtown Baltimore.

Meanwhile, legislators from Baltimore -- citing the what they called the economic benefits and the civic pride of having a National Football League team -- remain almost universally supportive of the two stadiums, according to the survey.

Both sides in the debate agree that to win approval, the projects need overwhelming support from Prince George's and Baltimore, with each jurisdiction voting for the other's stadium.

But the ambivalence in Prince George's County, which would get the biggest share of any benefits from a new Redskins stadium, indicates that proponents must shore up their own support before the issue is voted on by the General Assembly in several weeks.

"I think it's somewhat baffling that Prince George's doesn't want a privately invested major project like the Redskins stadium," said House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a Democrat from Cumberland who supports both stadiums.

"But I don't live in Prince George's, so I don't know," he said.

Mr. Glendening has committed $73 million in state funds for infrastructure and road improvements at the site of the proposed Redskins stadium near Landover.

Can it be justified?

Echoing others in the delegation, Del. C. Anthony Muse, a Prince George's Democrat, said he was concerned about the state's committing so much money for sports projects while it cuts social spending and fires hundreds of workers.

"How can you justify the cutting of these programs and laying off people who are willing to work every day, for nine or 10 ballgames?" he said.

Stadium proponents said some of the Prince George's legislators' reluctance can be attributed to the loud opposition many of them are hearing from people who live in the Landover-Largo area, near the proposed stadium site.

And some of the opposition in the State House, supporters said, is early-session posturing by lawmakers looking for political favors from the governor or legislative leaders.

At about the same point in the 1987 session, they noted, the proposal for a Camden Yards stadium complex appeared to face similar opposition. By late March of that year, after intense political arm-twisting, the measure was passed with strong majorities in both houses of the Assembly.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George's Democrat, predicted that the county's legislators will "absolutely" end up supporting both projects.

"When the smoke clears, the overwhelming majority of legislators in the metropolitan Washington area will vote for both stadiums," Mr. Miller said.

Officials of the Glendening administration said that they, too, think that Prince George's lawmakers will fall into line behind the stadium proposals.

On Friday, the administration released a poll commissioned by the Redskins that found 60 percent of Prince George's County residents surveyed supporting the local stadium project.

"I think this shows there is more support in Prince George's County than some legislators might think there is," said John W. Frece, a spokesman for the governor.

Many Prince George's lawmakers said they have been flooded with complaints about the Redskins deal.

"People meet me in the Giant Food store and say, 'Don't you dare vote for that bill,' " said Del. Mary A. Conroy, a Democrat who opposes both projects.

The poll, which included details of the stadium's private financing and potential benefits in its questions, found that statewide, 51 percent of respondents opposed the Prince George's stadium and 42 percent were in favor.

That was more support than was found an independent poll released earlier in the week.

In that survey of Maryland residents, 69 percent said they opposed the Redskins project and 62 percent were against the Browns stadium. The poll provided little information about the stadium projects.

"The better job we do telling people what the benefits of these stadiums are, the more public support there will be," Mr. Frece said.

Baltimore sees benefits

Most legislators from Baltimore seemed to be convinced of the benefits of both projects, according to the Sun survey.

Twenty-seven of the 35 city legislators said they would support the Browns stadium, seven said they were undecided and one was unavailable. Twenty-five said they supported the Redskins project, and nine said they were undecided.

Many of those who said they were on the fence said they were holding out for reassurance from the administration on certain issues before committing their support for the projects.

Sen. George W. Della Jr., for example, said he wanted to make sure that the Maryland Stadium Authority minimized inconvenience for his constituents who live near the proposed stadium at Camden Yards.

And lawmakers from North Baltimore want a firm commitment from the authority that the state will pay for demolishing Memorial Stadium if the new stadium is built.

Del. Ann Marie Doory, a Democrat from Northeast Baltimore, said she supports the stadium even though the timing is bad because of uncertainty about the economy.

"I think the stadiums will enhance the image of the state," she said. "It's something other states would like to have."

Del. Tony E. Fulton, a Democrat from West Baltimore, said the legislature would send the wrong signal to businesses if it refused to build the Baltimore stadium after an agreement had been negotiated between the governor and the Browns.

"It doesn't bode well to back out of a deal the state agreed to," Mr. Fulton said.

Lack of understanding

Several lawmakers acknowledged that their constituents are skeptical about the project, but they attributed much of that to a lack of understanding of the financing.

Many pointed out that the state is borrowing much of the $200 million for the Baltimore project, debts that would be repaid over 30 years by revenue from sports lotteries.

"There is not, that I'm aware of, any pot of $200 million in a budget that is going to be used to build this facility," said Del. Clay C. Opara, a West Baltimore Democrat.

Baltimore legislators said that if they want the Browns stadium approved, the political realities of Annapolis require them to support the Redskins project, too.

"It appears you can't have one without the other," said Del. Timothy D. Murphy, a South Baltimore Democrat.

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Hearings schedule

To receive a copy by fax of the General Assembly's hearing schedule for the week, call Sunfax at (410) 332-6123 and enter the four-digit code 5959.

If you would like to receive the schedule each week, call Laura Barnhardt at (410) 332-6893.

Straw poll on stadiums

Last week, The Sun surveyed 64 state legislators representing Prince George's County and Baltimore. Lawmakers were asked whether they supported the stadium deals as proposed. Those who said they were "for" or "leaning for" were counted in support. Those who said they were "against" or "leaning against" were counted in opposition.

BALTIMORE

.............................. Browns ................. Redskins

.............................. Yes No ?? .............. Yes No ??

Sen. Clarence W. Blount (D) .. Y ...................... Y

Sen. George W. Della Jr. (D) ......... X ...................... X

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman (D) .. Y ...................... Y

Sen. Ralph M. Hughes (D) ............. X ...................... X

Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D) ........... X ...................... X

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden (D) Y ....................... Y

Sen. John A. Pica Jr. (D) .....Y ....................... Y

Sen. Perry Sfikas (D) ................ X ...................... X

Sen. Larry Young (D) ..........Y ....................... Y

Del. Frank D. Boston Jr.(D) ...Y ....................... Y

Del. Talmadge Branch (D) ......Y ....................... Y

Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D) . Y ....................... Y

Del. James W. Campbell (D) ... Y ....................... Y

Del. Elijah E. Cummings(D) ... Y ....................... Y

Del. Gerald J. Curran (D) .... Y ........................Y

Del. Clarence Davis (D) ...... Y ....................... Y

Del. Ann Marie Doory (D) ..... Y ....................... Y

Del. Cornell N. Dypski (D) ............ X ..................... X

Del. Tony E. Fulton (D) ...... Y ....................... Y

Del. Peter A. Hammen (D) ..... Y ....................... Y

Del. Hattie N. Harrison (D) .. Y ....................... Y

Del. Ruth M. Kirk(D) ......... Y ....................... Y

Del. Carolyn J. Krysiak (D) .. Y ....................... Y

Del. Salima S. Marriott (D) .. Y .............................. X

Del. Brian K. McHale (D) ..... Y ....................... Y

Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D) ........... X ..................... X

Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV (D) Y ..................... Y

Del. Kenneth C. Montague Jr. (D) Y ............................ X

Del. Timothy D. Murphy (D) ... Y ....................... Y

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D) ...........Unavailable for comment

Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D) ... Y ....................... Y

Del. Clay C. Opara (D) ....... Y ....................... Y

Del. Joan N. Parker (D) ............... X ..................... X

Del. Howard P. Rawlings (D) .. Y ....................... Y

Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D) . Y ....................... Y

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

F

Sen. Arthur Dorman (D) ............N .................... Y

Sen. Ulysses Currie (D) ..................... Declined to comment

BSen. Leo E. Green (D) ....................... Declined to comment

Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah (D) .... Y ....................... Y

Sen. Martin G. Madden (R) .........N ....................Y

Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) Y ................... Y

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D) .......... N .......................N

Sen. Decatur W. Trotter (D) .. Y ....................... Y

Del. Rushern L. Baker III (D) .... N ...................... N

Del. Joanne C. Benson (D) ........ N .......................... X

Del. Mary A. Conroy (D) .......... N ...................... N

Del. Michael A. Crumlin (D) ...... N ...................... N

Del. Dereck Davis (D) ............ N .......................... X

Del. Nathaniel Exum (D) .......... N ...................... N

Del. Barbara Frush (D) ........... N ....................Y

Del. Anne Healey (D) ................. X ...................... X

Del. Carolyn J. B. Howard (D) Y .......................... N

Del. James W. Hubbard (D) ........ N ...................... N

Del. Brenda B. Hughes (D) ............ X ...................... X

Del. Pauline H. Menes (D) ............ X ...................... X

Del. John S. Morgan (R) .......... N ...................... N

Del. C. Anthony Muse (D) ......... N ...................... N

Del. Richard A. Palumbo (D) .......... X ...................... X

Del. Obie Patterson (D) .......... N .......................... X

Del. Joan B. Pitkin (D) .............. X .................. N

Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D) ........ X ...................... X

Del. James C. Rosapepe (D) ....... N ...................... N

Del. David M. Valderrama (D) ......... X ...................... X

Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D) Y ...................... Y

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