The Bullets and Capital Centre will make approximately $1.3 million off the National Basketball Association playoffs if the current world championship series against the Seattle SuperSonics goes the full seven games.
Nevertheless, Capital Bullets Basketball Club Inc., a separate legal entity of arena owner Abe Polin, may operate at an overall loss for the 12th straight year since Polin bought out partners Arnold Heft and Earl Foreman in 1968. Those three bought the franchise and moved it from Chicago to Baltimore in 1963. Polin built Capital Centre and moved the Bullets here in 1973.
"We don't know yet if we will make a profit," said Bullet Presisent Jerry Sachs. "If we do, it will be a very small one.I don't think the club has ever broken even. Last year was the closest."
It is the policy of Pollin and his assocites not to discuss specific financial details of the Centre, the Bullets or the Washington Capitals ice hockey team, another legal entity under the Pollin umbrella.
The Bullets and Capitals are corporations, Capital Centre is a limited partnership between Pollin and Heft, a construction executive and former BNA referee who formulated the original plans to build an arean on the public-parkland site in Prince George's County.
A source close to the operation said the Bullets and the Centre do not produce enough revenue to offset the cash losses of Pollin's hockey team, which the source said has lost at least $1 million in each of its first five seasons.
Tonight's second game of the championship series is the Bullet's 10th home game of the playoffs. With tonight's proceeds, the Bullets and Cap Centre revenues will be almost $1.1 million.
The potential $1.3 million income from 12 playoffs games is an estimated figure based on information supplied by the Bullets and sources familiar with Pollin's organization and the general economics of professional basketball.
Under Capital Bullets Basketball Club Inc.'s contract with Capital Centre, the Bullets pay Capital Centre a rental-believed to be 18 percent of tate receipts-and receive no portion of concessions and parking revenues, which go directly to the Capital Fenre.
The visiting team does not share in gate receipts except in the odd game of a series (third, fifth or seventh), in which case it receives 25 percent after a 10 percent county admissions tax is paid. For all other playoff games, the Bullets keep 55 percent and the NBA receives the rest.
The league's takeout covers players shares, a total $1.25 million package of which the Bullets will get at least $307,000 and as much as $367,000 to divide among the 11 players.
Here's how the Bullets and Capital Centre will take in their $1.3 million for 12 playoff dates:
A sellout of 19,035, with tickets scaled at $12, $9 and $7.50, produces gate receipts after the 10 percent county admissions tax of about $160,000. The Bullets receive $88,000 and the NBA $72,000, except for the odd third, fifth or seventh games when the Bullets receive 5 percent less plus $1,250 for advertising, with the NBA and visiting team each collecting 25 percent.
Of that $88,000, the Bullets pay 18 percent rent, in effect transferring money from Pollin's left pocket to his right. The $15,800 rent leaves the Bullets with $72,200 for a sellout.Only the first Atlanta game drew less (15,721 on Easter) than a full house. Therefore, in 12 dates plus local television-rights fees for eight games that CBS chose not to televise, the Bullets will take in approximatey $900,500.
The Capital Centre rental for 12 games would be $173,800. The Bullets will not reveal their percentage of concessions or parking revenue frm the Ogden Copr., but they are estimated at $235,000, and total revenues for the Centre and the Bullets at $1,310,300.
The concessions estimate is based on a figure of $2.40 per person, with Capital Centre receiving one third of the total sales. (Per capita spending increases when the Bullets win and is higher at a night game than one on a Sunday afternoon.
The parking lot holds 6,000 cars at $2 each. It could not be learned what the Centre's share is, but the estimate is one-third.
Sachs, also president of the Centre, refuses to divulge yearly operating costs of the Bullets. However, it was learned that in 1968, before player salaries exploded, it cost $2.5- $3 million annually to run the Bullets. Today, that figure is at least 50 percent higher.
Attendance this regular season averaged 12,786. Assume 10 percent are complimentary tickets, thereby putting the paid average about 11,500. Of those, some tickets are discounted.The ticke scale is $9, $7 and $4. Using a $6 average ticket price and gate receipts for 41 games would bring approximately $2,170,000 after the country tax and $1,780,000 after paying rent to the arena.
The Bullets receive $800,000 in TV revenues from the league contract with CBS and approximately $200,000 from WDCA-TV, and WTOP radio. The $900,000 additional playoff revenues bring total income to slightly more than $4 million.
The Bullets' payroll for 12 players - Phil Chenier and Roger Phegley both have spent time on the injured-reserve list this season-is about $2.2 million. Some of these salaries include deferred payments, but the Bullets also probably are making deferred payments to players from previous seasons. Also to be paid are salaries for the coaches, trainers, team doctors and 18 full-time office staff members.
Also costly are the team's travel expenses for 41 road games, travel by the scouts, plus advertising and other business expenses.
In addition, the Bullets pay the Capital Centre rent for office space.
As for the players, a full share of playoff money will amount to $33,410 if they successfully defend their title and divide the loot into 11 full shares. Each share would be worth $27,955 if the lose. Coach Dick Motta, but not assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, will receive an amount equal to one full share from the NBA.