Angelos-Moag rift isn't a surprise to observers O's owner tried to oustMSA chair in '95, some say

February 14, 1996|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

The dispute over the Orioles' parity clause is the most public evidence yet of growing tension between the state's most visible landlord, Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag, and his biggest tenant, Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Publicly, both men say they get along fine. But observers say the behind-the-scenes tension began almost as soon as Moag took over the stadium authority post and supplanted Angelos as the head of the city's NFL effort. Angelos even tried to get Moag replaced last year, sources said.

Some people say the bickering is a natural outgrowth of the fact that they sit on opposite sides of a bargaining table when it comes to stadium matters. But both men have strong personalities that could be expected to clash at times.

"I understood even before John Moag was on board, the Orioles and the stadium authority didn't get along," said state Sen. Barbara Hoffman, the chairwoman of the budget and tax committee. "I think it's a normal landlord-tenant relationship."

The latest rift in the relationship came after Angelos wrote a letter to Gov. Parris N. Glendening on Jan. 22, raising the possibility of invoking the parity clause in his lease. Angelos denied that the letter, sent just as stadium opposition was mounting in Annapolis, was an attempt to harm the football deal.

"The letter was not meant to generate opposition to the location of an NFL franchise in Baltimore," Angelos said. "I have supported that proposition for a number of years, and I certainly support it now. The insinuation that the letter was sent for some ulterior motive or to block an NFL team in Baltimore is simply incorrect."

Angelos also denied the letter was directed at the stadium authority chairman.

"I have no personality dispute with John Moag," Angelos said.

But last year, before Moag made the deal with football team owner Art Modell, Angelos met with Glendening and asked him to find a replacement for Moag, several sources said. Angelos declined to comment on that account, and Moag would not talk about Angelos.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said Angelos should have been informed about the stadium authority's negotiations with Cleveland Browns officials.

"[Angelos], like myself and like the speaker [Casper Taylor] and others, were kept in the dark about everything," Miller said. "It didn't bother me and doesn't bother the speaker. But he's the premier franchise owner in the state -- I think either Mr. Moag or the governor should have consulted him on the contract."

Before Moag became chairman of the stadium authority, Angelos made three serious runs at NFL teams at his own expense: the Buccaneers, Rams and Raiders.

"He's piqued and rightfully so," Miller said of Angelos. "He spent a great deal of personal funds to bring an NFL team to Maryland."

Being excluded by Moag had nothing to do with the parity dispute, Angelos said.

"The focus here is not on John Moag," Angelos said. "John Moag is a functionary for Governor Glendening."

Angelos objected to Moag's public comments during a Nov. 29 appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington. Moag said Angelos was "[getting] rich out of that park" and the parity clause in Angelos' lease would not cost the state any additional money.

Two months later, Angelos wrote the letter to Glendening, addressing it to Miller and Taylor as well. The Orioles owner said he did not intend for the letter to be made public, that he only wanted to protect the rights of the Orioles. He sent copies to 23 other people -- Moag, state comptroller Louis Goldstein, Hoffman, state delegate Howard P. Rawlings and the 19 Orioles investors.

"Officials of the Maryland Stadium Authority made repeated public statements that the Orioles' parity clause was meaningless in regard to another sports franchise at Camden Yards," Angelos said recently. "We had a duty to get on the record that we believed otherwise and that we intended to pursue it."

In a response to Angelos' Jan. 22 letter, Moag wrote: "I have never suggested, as you allege in your letter, that the Orioles would have to live under less favorable lease conditions unless, of course, they chose to."

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