Abe Pollin said yesterday the possibility of his Washington Capitals moving out of town "is dwindling."
A month ago, Pollin said if four conditions required by potential investors were not satisfied within 30 days, the club would be sold and moved, merged with another team or disbanded.
Yesterday, facing the last week of the waiting period, he said, "The option of moving intact to another city is slowly dwindling because of time constraints. But there are still the options of merging or disbanding."
The conditions -- sale of 7,500 season tickets, sellouts of the team's first 10 home games, tax relief from Prince George's County and a rent reduction on Capital Centre -- were to be fulfilled by Aug. 20.
But the Prince George's County Council meets on Aug. 24 to discuss the Capitals' amusement tax being cut from 10 percent to one half of 1 percent. "Obviously we can't cut off anything until after that," Pollin said.
Rent on Capital Centre has been reduced and nine of the 10 games have been guaranteed sellouts by area businesses. But season ticket sales have lagged, with 5,066 sold through yesterday.
When asked about a time extension, Pollin said, "That's something I just don't know. I don't know if the investors will feel there is a need to extend. Plus, there are other considerations. Those other options will take time to consider."
Pollin said there would be some flexibility in meeting the conditions, but allowed that "far (from the ticket goal) is a relative term."
Jim Lewis, one of the potential investors, said yesterday he "wouldn't have any problem with a time extension, but you'd have to ask Abe."
"The credibility question would concern me more," he said. "We came in, set certain conditions and said we'll do such and such. Then if we relax those, I worry that maybe people who came into the situation based upon those conditions being met might feel taken.
"As a matter of conscience, I'd have to take a long look at that."
Lewis, with attorney Dick Patrick and Marty Irving, are partners in a Virginia real estate company. The fourth would-be investor is Albert Turner, a Maryland businessman.
If the four conditions are met, that group would purchase 50 percent of the team from Pollin. Patrick, who comes from a hockey family, would function as Pollin's consultant on hockey matters.
Pollin is still optimistic about the team reaching its goal, although he said he had expected more season ticket sales among area businesses.
Last month the Washington Board of Trade sent letters to its more than 5,000 members, urging them to buy Capitals season tickets. Just 20 new requests came in, and yesterday the Capitals began their own follow-up campaign among board members.
"Part of the problem is that the decision makers, people who would normally see that letter right away, might be on vacation," said Lew Strudler, the team's marketing director.