Abe Pollin, owner of the Washington Capitals hockey team, the Washington Bullets basketball team and the Capital Centre, was paid $1.2 million from those businesses in the fiscal year ending June 30, according to documents that Pollin delivered to the Prince George's County Council this week.
The hockey team lost $2.5 million and the basketball team lost $1.4 million during the same period. In that period, the Capital Centre grossed about $28.5 million from ticket sales, television and other revenue sources, the documents said. The documents did not provide a figure of net income from the Centre.
Pollin made the information available at the request of Councilman Anthony Cicoria, in the wake of the council's efforts to repeal a controversial $1 million tax break granted to the hockey team last year. Four of nine council members polled yesterday said the information is incomplete and unpersuasive, and that they would support an effort to repeal the tax break this fall.
The tax break was granted by the council in the spring of 1982 after Pollin, faced with what he said were mounting losses from the then-losing Capitals team, threatened to sell the team unless the council agreed to waive the county's 10 percent amusement tax for six years. He also asked fans to buy more tickets.
Early last January, newly elected council members led by incumbent Sue V. Mills threatened to repeal the tax break, saying it discriminated against other business owners. But they agreed to delay action until Cicoria's request was satisfied.
"Based on this report, I see no way I can go before the public and not reintroduce that legislation to repeal the tax break ," said Mills. "That is not an audit, that is not a complete report." The information provided was taken from a financial audit by a Washington firm.
Mills added, "That $1.2 million for Mr. Pollin--I find that figure to be crazy. How am I going to justify to a taxpayer who has a $25,000 income that we can't forgive your taxes but we can forgive the taxes of someone with $1.2 million?"
Glenn T. Harrell Jr., a lawyer who represents Pollin as well as the Capitals and the Bullets, said the $1.2 million was not income but a cash payment that should be charged against Pollin's other losses. But Harrell said he did not know what the cash was used for and would not provide other information.
Since all of Pollin's companies are privately held, Pollin could not be legally compelled to provide an audit. Pollin could not be reached for comment.
The five-page statement lists revenues and expenses for the Capitals and for the Bullets, a list of gross receipts from the Capital Centre, and a "statement of cash distribution to Abe Pollin and Abe Pollin Sports, Inc." Pollin's personal holding corporation. A letter signed by Pollin said that the information "presents fairly" the results of the teams' operation for the fiscal year.
The statement listed revenues of $5.9 million for the Capitals, and operating expenses of $7.9 million. Other miscellaneous expenses for the Capitals came to about $500,000. The Bullets recorded revenues of $4.9 million, with operating expenses of $5.9 million. Other Bullets expenses amounted to almost $400,000.