Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin, who is trying to sell his National Hockey League team or attract new partners, reportedly is asking $7.5 million for the team, it was learned yesterday.
Sources said Pollin is likely to have at least one offer on the table soon. New York attorney-agent Art Kaminsky, representing a group of New York investors, was scheduled to meet with Pollin this week.
Recently the Detroit Red Wings were sold for $5 million, the Colorado Rockies for $8.8 million.
Pollin did not return phone calls yesterday afternoon. And Kaminsky said last night that his group has not yet made a formal offer. k Kaminsky said recently that the people he represents are interested in keeping the team in Washington.
Besides Kaminsky's group, there is at least one other viable group, headed by Los Angeles businessman Harry Ornest. Ornest acknowledged he had had discussions with Pollin. Last week Jake Milford, Vancouver's general manager, confirmed he had put an interested Los Angeles-based party in touch with the Capitals.
Kaminsky and Ornest indicated if they were successful in attempts to buy the team, they would keep it at Pollin's arena, Capital Centre, in Landover.
Although several possible buyers have been mentioned in recent weeks, no solid offers have been made until now. Kaminsky had said he hoped to put a proposal before Pollin this week.
"I have a certain optimism about my people and once formal offers have been made, I'll be really optimistic," he said last week. Kaminsky repeatedly stressed that his group, made up of "New York businessmen who prefer anonymity," wants to keep the team here.
"All my efforts have been directed toward keeping the team in Washington," Kaminsky said. "I strongly believe the team will stay there."
At last month's National Hockey League meetings, Peter O'Malley, the team's legal counsel, confirmed the team could be sold and moved from the city. No potential sites for such a move have been officially or realistically considered.
John Ziegler, National Hockey League president, asked recently about the potential problems associated with moving the Washington team, declined to discuss details. Because the league has not been advised the Washington team would not operate next season, according to Ziegler, "There is no 'Washington situation.' "
Pollin had originally talked of seeking "investors" for his team, but would not specify whether he was looking for partners or outright buyers for the club, which lost more than $3 million last season.
Kaminsky said last week, "The people who would be most interested (in buying the Capitals) would want to have total control."
If Pollin sells the team and it remains here, he would still function as landlord. Pollin owns Capital Centre and its other tenant, the Bullets. Financing of the building was based upon both teams playing there, but O'Malley said recently, "No problem is insurmountable."
It was reported Wednesday that Pollin's cable television company, First County Cable, which is seeking a franchise in Montgomery County, was among the final four firms selected by a cable television advisory commission.
Kaminsky said recently he had put a lot of time into talking to groups interested in buying the Capitals. "All the team has to do is do a few things right and it'll be a success," he said.
He cited cable television possibilities as one selling point for the team, saying, "Potential is what we've been trying to sell."
Kaminsky added, "People have to be prepared to lose a couple bucks for a few years, but the turnaround could come quickly." In eight seasons, the club reportedly has lost about $20 million.
One sticking point in the negotiations has been that potential buyers would like to share some of the financial benefits from parking and concessions at Capital Centre. Pollin has no such problem, since he owns both professional teams and the arena.