Moag to step down as chief Stadium chairman to leave after election

September 16, 1998|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

John Moag, the man who persuaded the Cleveland Browns to move to Baltimore, will step down as chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

"I've spent a little more than 3 1/2 years and it's been hard on my family. It is my intention that after the election I will step down," Moag said yesterday in response to questions after addressing a continuing education class at the College of Notre Dame.

Moag, 44, is a lawyer who heads a new sports-finance consulting practice at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. in Baltimore. He is married and has two daughters, ages 15 and 13.

"This has been taxing," Moag said, explaining that the demands of family, business and the stadium authority were too much. He intends to leave after the November election.

Moag was appointed to the unpaid stadium authority post by Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1995 to fill an unexpired term of the first chairman, Herbert J. Belgrad. Moag was reappointed in February for a four-year term, despite hints from the Orioles that they would prefer someone else.

Moag said he still supports the governor and will remain involved in the city's joint bid with Washington to acquire the summer Olympics in the next century.

In a telephone interview yesterday afternoon, Moag said of the stadium authority post: "I've enjoyed it. How many people get a chance like this, to be involved in a historic event for the city?"

He said he has discussed the demands of his job with Glendening but has set no departure date. David Iannucci, Glendening's deputy chief of staff, said the governor supports Moag and has received no official notice he will leave.

"I think John's done a terrific job, and we'll have to sort through the future when we get to it," Iannucci said.

In inheriting the state's failed effort to attract an NFL franchise, Moag steered a more combative course than Belgrad had. Moag threatened to sue the NFL and told it he would push Maryland to revoke the 1986 stadium funding if he didn't get a team.

By October 1995, Moag had persuaded the Browns to move to Baltimore. Word leaked out less than a month later and the sports world was aghast at the idea of one of the most revered franchises jilting its fans.

The league, after Moag filed an antitrust lawsuit against it, agreed to the move in early 1996 and promised a replacement franchise for Cleveland, to be called the Browns. Baltimore's new team was renamed the Ravens.

Moag defended the deal by saying Cleveland lost its team by failing to meet its needs for a new stadium, just as Baltimore had lost the Colts to Indianapolis and a new stadium in 1984.

Moag oversaw construction of the Ravens' $223 million stadium, which opened this month on time but $23 million over budget. He also opened a $151 million expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center and a $30 million expansion of Ocean City's convention center, and has overseen preliminary work on an arena at the University of Maryland College Park.

Relations between Moag's Stadium Authority and the Orioles became strained as they feuded over the amount of parking displaced by the Ravens and other issues. The dispute amounted to a clash between the two headstrong attorneys, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and Moag.

Angelos, who had been leading the pursuit of an NFL team at the end of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's administration, was relegated to the sideline by Moag and never forgave him. At one point, he asked Glendening to fire Moag.

There was also controversy in May after Moag left the law firm of Patton, Boggs and Blow, where he had been the youngest partner in the firm's history and worked as a Congressional lobbyist, for the Legg Mason job. Critics feared a conflict of interest as Moag tended to his official duties with the Ravens and Orioles while seeking private business from other teams.

Moag also pushed Baltimore to make a formal bid to host the Olympics and has pushed for the NFL to play a Super Bowl here.

"He's a good man and he's done a very good job for the state and he's done a very good job for the governor and with the stadium. I hope he stays on. We've worked well together," said Ravens owner Art Modell.

Angelos did not respond to a request for comment.

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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