The Washington Commandos have had the largest crowd (13,507) in the new Arena Football league this year, but if local ownership fails to materialize by late fall, the team will not play here next year, according to league president Jim Foster.

"If it came down to it, even with the team drawing well, we might have to pull it," Foster said in an interview this week. "The whole point is, if the team is doing well, then somebody ought to step forward."

The purchase price for limited ownership rights will be about $2.5 million, Foster said. But Foster said he has a policy against absentee ownership, and added that Washington is the only one of the new league's four teams that does not have a pending agreement with a prospective local owner.

Foster said he does not anticipate a problem finding local ownership here for what he calls the "owner management rights." Barry Silberman, Capital Centre's vice president of arena administration, has been heading a search for an owner.

Silberman said yesterday there are two individuals who appear "very interested" and several others with "some interest." He declined to identify the potential buyers.

When an individual or group buys the rights to an Arena Football team, they actually buy stock in Arena Sports Ventures, the company that runs the league, Foster said. Individual owners operate as if they are running a division of the company.