The 12-year-old artificial grass field has arrived via truck from Pittsburgh. The goalpost-net combination stands the full 15 feet tall. And Velcro holds the advertising-covered foam sideline barriers in place.

Capital Centre is fully dressed for Arena Football.

Only a few ESPN cameras and a crowd expected to approach about 10,000 are left to fill the arena for the Washington Commandos' home opener at 9 tonight against the Denver Dynamite. So far, almost 6,000 tickets have been sold, according to Capital Centre spokesman Bob Zurfluh. ESPN drew a 2.6 rating (about 1.1 million households) for its inaugural telecast last week of the Chicago-Denver game. It normally gets a 1.4 for that time period Saturday night.

This is the second of six games for the Commandos, one of four teams in the new league. Washington Coach Bob Harrison and Denver Coach Tim Marcum are changing strategies and personnel. Harrison has changed his starting quarterback, from Mike Calhoun to Rich Ingold, though he says both will play tonight.

Calhoun went four for seven for 50 yards as last week's starter; Ingold completed 17 of 32 for 182 yards. "I still feel Mike Calhoun played well, but Ingold put points on the board," said Harrison. "The players made some big plays for Ingold."

The Commandos haven't made any big plays in Capital Centre. They first strayed from their outdoor practice site at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt to check out the arena on Thursday, holding a short practice on half the field while workers worked on the other half.

But both teams are probably somewhat comfortable after having played a full indoor game, which for most meant playing both ways.

"Last week, everybody was kind of shaky about playing both positions," running back/linebacker Walter Holman said. "But now, everybody's pretty comfortable with what they're doing."

For Sean McInerney, a lineman from Rockville and Frostburg State, it wasn't so much getting used to the positions as it was fighting fatigue. "I didn't really know what to expect last week," he said. "But now, you can pace yourself. You know how far you can go and how tired you can get."

Marcum has been adjusting in other areas. He simply would like to see his team field the ball cleanly off of the goalside nets, instead of having the kicking team grab it and go on to score. In Arena Football, kickoffs and errant field goal attempts can be fielded by the kicking team if the receiving player doesn't get the ball on his first chance.

"It's like an onside kick," Marcum said. "You don't really practice it, you just make it a point of emphasis with the two {receivers} back there."

When circumstances allow, Marcum will pull defensive back Larry Friday, a veteran of the NFL, USFL and CFL, from the offense and replace him with Gary Mullen. He said he is also studying individual matchups.

"Each kid is a little better at either offense or defense, so you try to make use of that," he said.

The Dynamite, which beat the Commandos, 20-18, in a two-quarter exhibition earlier this month and defeated Chicago in overtime last week, feature quick quarterback Stuart Mitchell, a 1987 graduate of Cornell. Looking after Mitchell have been hefty -- by Arena Football standards -- linemen, 6-foot-2, 255-pound Pat Cain, Charles Harris (6-3, 255) and Keith Smith (6-5, 240).

Two area players will be playing for the Dynamite: Steve Trimble, a wide receiver/defensive back from Maryland who has played with both the Denver Broncos and Gold, and Richard Prather, a fullback from Frostburg State who coaches running backs at Montgomery College-Rockville.