SBJ/March 15 - 21, 1999/No Topic Name

Big Apple brings in Baltimore finance guru

The former head of the Maryland Stadium Authority, which built Camden Yards, is the Big Apple's newest stadium guru.

John Moag, now chief of the sports finance group at Legg Mason Inc. (NYSE:LM), will work with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration to develop potential new facilities for the New York Mets, Yankees and Jets, among others. Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks and Rangers, is also considering moving to a new site west of its current location. Together, the new arenas and stadiums would costs billions of dollars.

Moag's group last week hired Mitchell Ziets of Public Financial Management, a Philadelphia-based stadium consultant that had advised New York since August 1996. But with Ziets' move, Legg Mason inherits the high-profile and potentially lucrative assignment.

With Moag and Ziets now in tow, New York is the most recent indication that local governments are increasingly relying on private sports finance experts to help resolve complicated sports issues.

"Historically, the public sector has been involved with [sports] financing without expert help, and now there is a trend toward getting expert assistance, certainly on the finance side," said Robert Caporale, chairman of Game Plan LLC, which is advising Oakland on the sale of the A's.

As head of the Maryland Stadium Authority, Moag helped devise the largely public financing for the Orioles' and Ravens' stadiums at Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore. During a trip to Camden Yards last year to watch a Yankees-Orioles game, Giuliani lauded the virtues of the Baltimore team's ballpark.

But in New York, with its aging public-service infrastructure, there has already been a public outcry over the proposed use of public funds for new sports development.

Giuliani had long pushed for a new Yankee Stadium on Manhattan's west side, only to back away from the proposal recently. The Yankees' agreement last month to merge with the New Jersey Nets suddenly increased the seemingly remote chance that the baseball club would move to New Jersey.

At the same time, Giuliani has been wooing the Jets, who moved to New Jersey in 1984, about possibly returning to New York to a domed football stadium that would be built next to a new Madison Square Garden. And the Mets want to build a new stadium in Shea Stadium's parking lot.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to questions about Moag.

Moag, who left the Maryland Stadium Authority last year to start the Legg Mason group, said Ziets also brings with him the mandate to advise the San Diego Padres on the private financing for their new ballpark.

The group, which now numbers six, also added John Tenuta, a former ProServ Inc. veteran, and Karen Batchelder, a vice president in Legg Mason's Philadelphia office.

The Legg Mason group has yet to announce a transaction, but in addition to the New York and San Diego assignments, Moag said he is advising Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp. on the construction of a new racing track that could host a NASCAR race in Anne Arundel County, Md.

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