Moag joining Legg Mason He'll head group servicing the sports industry

Investing

May 29, 1998|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

John A. Moag Jr., the head of the Maryland Stadium Authority and the man who engineered the Cleveland Browns' move to Baltimore, has been named by Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. to lead an investment group catering to the sports industry.

Moag, 43, becomes managing director of Legg Mason's professional sports industry group, the Baltimore-based investment house said yesterday.

Moag had been a partner and lobbyist based in the Baltimore office of Patton Boggs LLP, a Washington law firm, where he focused on sports-related legal issues and negotiations.

Legg Mason is looking to expand its business in packaging stadium and sports arena financing deals and to be ready for the expected growth in teams wanting to sell stock and go public.

The company's sports industry group has been around for several years, working primarily out of Legg Mason's real estate department in Philadelphia. Moag, the first head of the group, will be based in Baltimore.

Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, chairman and chief executive officer of Legg Mason, said Moag's addition to the firm is a sign of the company's intention to build a premier investment banking practice to serve an industry marked by rapid changes brought on by team ownership changes, aging facilities and the entertainment business.

"This is a burgeoning business," said Moag. "We are going to take the expertise we have, beef it up a bit and be at the forefront with a great cross-section of talent."

Legg Mason, said Moag, has its eye on helping sports team owners, cities and states negotiate and package financing for new stadium and sports arena construction, as well as negotiate the sale of team interests.

Moag said he sees the construction area as ripe for business with many stadiums either aging or no longer generating the revenue needed for their teams to remain competitive in the era of luxury boxes and club seats.

"More and more team owners are being asked to step up to the plate, and as they do they will need a certain level of expertise," Moag said. He sees the business potential for providing financial advice on sports arena deals as global rather than strictly national.

In 1995, Legg Mason began focusing on niches of the investment banking business in which the firm thought it could be particularly competitive. One of them was the sports industry.

Since then, Legg Mason has served as financial adviser on several sports-related transactions, including the construction and long-term financing of the MCI Center in Washington and Comcast Corp.'s July 1996 purchase of an interest in the National Basketball Association 76ers, the National Hockey League Flyers and Core-States Center in Philadelphia.

Legg Mason also has its eye on the emerging business of taking teams public through stock offerings. While the National Football League prohibits public offerings in teams, Major League Baseball approved stock sales last year.

The Cleveland Indians are set to go public next week in a bid to raise more than $53 million after expenses. The team will issue 4 million Class A shares, but team owner Richard E. Jacobs will control all decisions through his Class B shares.

The stock market is viewed by some industry experts as a potential growth area for teams' raising capital in the face of public pressure to keep states and cities from using taxpayer money to support new stadiums and for other perks for team owners.

Mason, Legg Mason's chief executive officer, said Moag was hired because of his "extensive experience in the business of sports, an acute understanding of the role of government and sports franchises in selecting venue alternatives, and a strong grasp of the need for creative financing solutions."

Yesterday, Moag said he intended to stay on as chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, a volunteer post.

The MSA manages Oriole Park at Camden Yards and will operate the Ravens football stadium, scheduled to open in August. Moag was reappointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening to a four-year term as MSA chairman in February.

Moag said he did not anticipate that Legg Mason would seek business from the stadium authority, but would step aside from any such negotiations should they arise, to avoid ethical questions.

A spokesman for Glendening said the governor did not have any immediate comment on Moag's appointment.

Pub Date: 5/29/98

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