One of the four conditions necessary to keep the Washington Capitals in operation next season has been fulfilled, according to Abe Pollin, the hockey team's owner.
Pollin said Friday that the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, which holds the bond on Capital Centre, has approved a rent decrease from 15 to 10 percent of the net after taxes.
No spokesman for Equitable was available for comment.
"They've approved it and will write up the details," Pollin said. "That's one (condition) down and three to go."
The three remaining conditions, required by a group of potential investors, are: sale of 7,500 season tickets, sellouts of the team's first 10 home games and a reduction in the Prince George's County 10 percent amusement tax to one-half of 1 percent on Capitals games.
Pollin outlined the details at a July 20 press conference, stating the conditions had to be fulfilled within 30 days.
"After we (Pollin and the group) met, and the conditions were set forth, we knew the only way anything could happen was to go public and let people know what it'll take to keep the team here," he said.
Approximately 85,000 tickets, an average of 8,500 per game (on top of the projected 7,500 season-ticket base), must be dispensed to sell out 10 games.
Through Saturday, the team had sold 4,380 season tickets and 11,009 individual tickets to the first 10 home games.
Pollin was pleased at the response. "The individual fan has been superb," he said. He has received letters from all over the country, he says, from people concerned about the future of his National Hockey League team.
A Tulsa man wrote to say he was president of the Washington Capitals fan club there. He is its lone member. He sent Pollin a $1,000 check for two season tickets to help keep the team here in case he moves back to Washington.
Pollin got one rather dramatic plea from a young lady who said if the team moves, "it'll be devastating to my sister, her life will be over. Please, for her sake, do anything to save the Capitals."
"The sister wrote for herself, too," he added.
Pollin said a lull has hit ticket sales, and he is waiting to see if the business community comes through.
"I must admit, I thought it would have come through earlier," he said.
Last week the Greater Washington Board of Trade mailed letters to its 5,000 members, urging them to purchase Capitals season tickets.
Pollin said some ticket buyers are confused.
"They think they have to buy 10-game packages of tickets," he said. "Yes, they can buy those, but we are also selling single tickets to any and all of those games."
If the requirements are met within the time limit, at least four area businessmen will invest in the team, with Pollin retaining 50 percent ownership.
If not, Pollin has said, the club will be sold and moved, merged with another team and moved, or disbanded.