The Greater Washington Board of Trade made its pitch yesterday to help keep the Capitals alive and in Washington.

At an afternoon press conference, Steve Harlan, board president, outlined his organization's three-part program to support the hockey team.

Letters will be sent to the more than 5,000 board of trade members, urging them to buy Capitals season tickets, or to buy additional tickets if they already hold some.

The board also will testify in support of owner Abe Pollin's request to lower his team's Prince George's County amusement tax from 10 percent to one-half of 1 percent.

In the upcoming issue of its monthly journal, the board will run an advertisement, complete with order form, urging readers to purchase Capitals tickets.

Harlan said he contacted Pollin several weeks ago when it became apparent the franchise was in trouble. "We asked what we could do to keep the team here," he said. "And he (Pollin) said we could ask the membership to buy tickets."

The board has members in suburban Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia, Harlan said, "from small grocery stores to partnerships and corporations."

Pollin repeatedly has said his team needs the support of Washington's business community. He met with the board of trade last week to determine specific ways for the organization to help his franchise.

Last year, 42 percent of the Capitals' season ticketholders were businesses or corporations. As of yesterday, approximately 250 of the team's 700 new ticket orders had been placed by businesses.

Pollin set conditions last week for the team's continued operation. Unless the Capitals sell 7,500 season tickets, sell out the first 10 games of the year, receive tax relief and a reduction in Capital Centre rent within 30 days, he said, the team will be sold and moved, merged or disbanded.

Through Monday, the team had sold 3,750 season tickets and 7,828 individual tickets.