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Redskin Owner Isn't Resting on His Laurel Site

October 19, 1994|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Washington Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke's quest to move his team to Maryland--and block Baltimore's attempts to attract the Rams--has continued, despite a zoning officer's recent decision to reject Cooke's application to build a 78,600-seat stadium in Laurel, Md.

"The fact is, we have been offered a number of sites in Maryland within the Baltimore/Washington Corridor (to build a stadium)," Cooke said in a statement. "We are assessing their value to us while we take immediate and positive steps toward complying with Hearing Examiner Robert Wilcox's decision regarding Laurel.

"Our first choice with the modifications required by the Wilcox decision continues to be Laurel and Anne Arundel County."

NFL owners approved the Redskins' move to Laurel in September, but Wilcox, in denying several zoning exceptions Cooke needs to build the stadium, said the property, located about 20 miles south of Baltimore, "is too small for the proposed use."

Baltimore officials, who are competing with St. Louis and Anaheim for the Rams, believed the decision dealt a serious setback to Cooke's hopes of controlling the Washington and Baltimore markets, and in turn may ease the Rams' fears of possible litigation from Cooke should they decide to move to Baltimore.

Cooke plans to appeal the decision, but Maryland state Sen. John Pica said "even if everything went his way, he wouldn't be able to break ground (in Laurel) until 1996." The Rams are expected to make a decision by the end of this year.

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Though Orange County's Save the Rams Task Force would love to team with the NFL on a joint venture to build a stadium in Southern California, the league does not appear to be in any hurry to pursue such a project.

Greg Aiello, NFL director of communications, said Tuesday the league has not commissioned a feasibility study or appointed someone to spearhead a plan that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue believes would go a long way toward keeping the Raiders and/or Rams in Southern California.

On Oct. 2 Tagliabue went public with the idea, in which the league would enter into a partnership to build a stadium that would serve as site of the Super Bowl on a rotating basis. The Rams are being courted by St. Louis and Baltimore, and there have been reports that the Raiders are considering a return to Oakland.

"It's a germ of an idea and hasn't been taken much farther than that," Aiello said. "We don't know what's going to happen in L.A., but we want to maintain a presence there."

Save the Rams co-chairman Leigh Steinberg said he sent a letter to Tagliabue promoting Anaheim Stadium as a possible site for a stadium/entertainment corridor project but has not heard a reply.

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