Moag unfazed by senator's 'unconstitutional' proposal Legislation would stop tax-financed team moves

January 20, 1996|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,SUN STAFF

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag is not worried about the latest proposal coming out of Congress that tries to stop the Cleveland Browns' proposed move to Baltimore.

Moag said the soon-to-be proposed legislation, which attempts to stop taxpayer-subsidized moves by pro football teams, is unconstitutional because it is retroactive to Jan. 1, 1995.

"In terms of any legislation's impact on us, you've got serious constitutional issues," Moag said. "It just doesn't pass muster."

Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, is proposing to prohibit using tax-free bonds to help a pro football team leave a city such as Cleveland, which has supported its team and has an unexpired lease with that team.

The Browns are attempting to use tax-free bonds to subsidize a $200 million stadium in Baltimore. DeWine's legislation could increase the cost of moving the Browns by more than $35 million.

Moag said the threat of legislation has not started a scramble for more funding.

"I don't see any sort of obstacle that would affect our deal, without being unconstitutional," said Moag, a former legislative aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer.

DeWine's proposal will join several pieces of legislation introduced by members of the Ohio delegation to try to stop the move. One bill provides the NFL with a limited antitrust exemption to control franchise relocation. Another threatens to take away the NFL's antitrust exemption that allows it to pool television revenues unless Cleveland keeps the Browns name and receives an expansion franchise.

All the bills are retroactive, and members of the Maryland delegation and Moag say they have little chance of passing.

Moag characterized the latest bill as nothing more than a nuisance.

"I think it's ridiculous micromanagement and uncharacteristic of a Republican senator," he said.

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