Testimony began in Prince George's County Circuit Court yesterday in a suit accusing Abe Pollin, principal owner of Capital Centre, the Capitals and the Bullets, of improperly diverting money from the Centre to the teams.
The suit, brought by Arnold Heft, the only limited partner in the Centre, asks that Pollin either be ousted as general partner of the Centre or that a receiver be appointed to manage the facility.
Heft, who sued in December 1983, is also seeking an accounting of how much money may have been diverted to the teams, and appropriate compensation for Heft. The Bullets and Capitals are also defendants.
Heft contends specifically that in mid-1982, Pollin "made numerous unilateral, self-serving changes" in the licensing agreement between the teams and the arena, costing the Centre at least $1 million.
After opening arguments, the sole witness was Sidney Silver, a lawyer for Heft who testified about the financial arrangements between the two men.
Heft, a Maryland real estate investor and longtime associate of Pollin, had wanted to build Capital Centre himself and had leased the land rights in Largo. After he failed to get financing, he sold the rights to Pollin in exchange for a one-third interest in the Centre and its profits.
A spokesman for Pollin said he would have no comment on the case during the trial, which is expected to last at least a week. But in a statement released when the suit was filed, Pollin called Heft's claim "groundless" and said that Heft had received $4,245,000 from his interest in Capital Centre although he "has not done one day's work toward the planning, construction and operation of the Capital Centre."