WILL THE Washington Caps be able to remain in this metropolitan area? We should know in the next few days. Technically, yesterday was the deadline for fulfillment of the four conditions owner Abe Pollin said must be met if a group of four local investors (including Dick Patrick, scion of a famous hockey family) is to agree to buy 50 percent of the club. That would expose them to the possibility of large losses -- Mr. Pollin has lost some $20 million on the team -- and so it is understandable that they have sought a rent reduction, abatement of the Prince George's County amusement tax, substantial season ticket purchases, and sellouts of 10 games.
Two of those four conditions have been met, and the Prince George's Council meets Tuesday to consider reducing the 10 percent amusement tax; reports are that it will agree to do so, and we certainly hope it will not refuse if that would mean the difference between keeping and losing one of the metropolitan area's few major league sports teams.
The problem remaining is the season tickets. Mr. Pollin's goal is to sell 7,500; as of Friday afternoon, 5,341 were sold. The Caps have promised to keep telephone lines open all day and into the evening both today and tomorrow (441-CAPS) to accept orders. Businesses or individuals who would prefer buying a large bloc of tickets for a single game are also encouraged to do so, since such guaranteed sales would help make the Caps a more attractive proposition to new investors.
Mr. Pollin meets Monday with Mr. Patrick and the other investors to hear whether they will go ahead with the deal. We hope ticket sales are enough to persuade them to do so. Mr. Patrick's hockey knowledge is one of several factors suggesting that the Caps may be about to be capable of playing playoff hockey; it would be a shame if Caps fans were denied the pleasure of watching such a team and if Washington area residents were denied the civic invigoration that comes from having a home town team make good. We hope this cliffhanger has a happy ending.