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 MCI Center Package

  'I Hope ... I Hope'

Sunday, November 30, 1997; Page W20
The Washington Post Magazine

Abe Pollin is the owner of the Wizards, the Capitals and the MCI Center. He spoke with Magazine staff writer Peter Perl.

Q: So, was it worth spending $150 million?

A: It's more than 150. It is now over 200. Only time will tell whether my vision is successful. The city is responding. The teams will do well there, I hope . . . I hope it will be a catalyst in turning downtown around.

Q: How are you going to deal with the fact that there are people in the suburbs who are afraid to get on the Metro and come downtown?

A: Once they come and see the lighting, the security, the work the city is doing, the 40 police officers in and around the MCI Center; once they see that and see all the effort we have made, I think it will overcome any fears.

Q: In light of the initial problems at the new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, have you made any special plans for traffic flow and parking?

A: I was stuck in traffic myself at the opening of Jack Kent Cooke. That is part of the reason we are having a "soft opening" . . . We are having construction workers and their families, with bands and music and a show on the Telscreen about the building of the building. And we will have at least 10,000 people. All the thousands of workers and their families, all of my employees and their families will be my guests. And we will check out everything . . . We will test how the traffic flows, how the parking goes, the toilets, everything.

Q: Again, in light of the Cooke family situation, have you made inheritance plans for the future of your franchises?

A: I am still a young man. I am 73. The good Lord has been very good to me. I think if anything happened to me, my sons would take over. In my new center, they will have an office right near mine. Robert and Jimmy. Robert is a professor of economics at the University of California at Riverside, and Jimmy is in the cruise business in Miami. But they are very familiar with my business, and they know everything, almost on a daily basis. They give me advice. They give me hell. They say, "Dad, you're stupid. Why did you sign this guy? Why did you trade that guy?" They give me a hard time. Robert came in and looked over the building and he had good suggestions. Robert's 47 and Jimmy is 40.

Q: In light of the possible takeover of MCI by another company, is there a chance you may change the name of the MCI Center?

A: I have no idea. I have not heard from anybody. It is MCI Center as far as I know. I just assume it will stay that way. We have a 15-year contract.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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