The Washington Bullets are winners on the court and the washington Capitals are losers on the ice, but at the Capital Centre turnstiles there is minimal differences between the teams.
After 28 home games, the Capitals are averaging 11,040 fans. After 26 home contests, the Bullets' average is 10,983. The Capitals have a slightly higher ticket scale and a greater percentage of discount sales, so the dollar input is probably about the same.
The Capitals are outdrawing six other NHL clubs, an impressive statistic considering the team's lackluster scoring and last-place position in the Norris Division.
The Capitals thrive on group sales, with 61 separate groups contributing to a sellout crowd of 18,130 for last Friday's game with Montreal. They also have a higher season-ticket base, although these figures, like all those pertaining to Capital Centre finances, are closely guarded.
One constant for both teams is a weekend feast, a midweek famine. Of Capitals' top 13 crowds, 12 were on weekends, with the odd figure, 14,841 on a Tuesday against Boston, coming during the lucrative Christmas holiday period. A Wednesday game with NHL champion Montreal attracted only 9.167.
The Bullets have hosted seven weekend crowds of 16,500 or more. Except for a 13,276 opening-night attendance (Thursday) against Detroit, their next-largest turnout was 11,554 for Wednesday's game with NBA champion Portland. Two midweek games with Denver, considered a big draw with David Thompson, did not reach five figures.
"Weekdays are terrible," said Marc Splaver, the Bullets' director of public relations. "If Farrah Fawcett was dancing nude at halftime, we couldn't sell out in midweek."
The Bullets haven't sold out their 19,035 seats on the weekends, either, but things are likely to pick up over the last two months. That was the case last year, giving the Bullets a record average of 11,408.
The Bullets have won the friendly attendance rivalry during two of the three previous years they shared Capital Centre. In 1974-75, the Capitals' first season, the hockey team averaged 10,004 to the Bullets' 9,360.
The Capitals' season-tickets figures dropped dramatically the following year. but group sales and promotions kept the average at a respectable 9,835, compared with the contending Bullets' 10,752. Last season, both teams showed healthy increases, the improved Capitals averaging 10,931 and the Bullets their high mark of 11,408.
The Bullets have enjoyed three crowds this season higher than the Capitals' two 18,130 sellouts. They also have played before three gatherings smaller than the Capitals' low of 6.848, reached on a Tuesday against Vancouver. The Bullets bottomed out at 5,593 on a Tuesday with Seattle.