SBD/9/Franchises

CAPITALS HOME GAMES: LIGHTS ARE ON, BUT WHO'S HOME?

     Capitals attendance has dipped steadily throughout the
decade, from a team-high average of 17,251 in '89-90 to 14,159 in
last year's lockout-delayed season, and Len Hochberg writes in
the WASHINGTON POST, Tuesday's draw of 8,865 against the Bruins
was the smallest home crowd this decade.  Washington Sports
President Susan O'Malley says the reasons cited for the decline
are "wide and varied," including the loss of marquee players, the
perception owner Abe Pollin cares more about the Bullets, and the
location of the arena.  O'Malley says the Capitals are undergoing
a five-year plan to regain a fan base that will include the use
of focus groups (WASHINGTON POST, 11/9).  After Tuesday's game,
Caps defenseman Sylvain Cote said, "We ask ourselves, 'What is
it?'  We look at ourselves as players and we ask that question,
but management has got to look at itself too -- not to share the
blame, but to figure out how to bring people into this building"
(Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/9).
     SIMILAR SITUATION?  In Vancouver, Niel McCrae compares
attention paid to the Canucks and Grizzlies by Orca Bay, which
owns both.  McCrae writes the Grizzlies have "set a new standard
for entertainment," while hockey is "slow in keeping up with the
times and figuring out what sells and what does not" (Vancouver
PROVINCE, 11/9).  FINANCIAL POST headline: "Send in the
Marketers: NHL Executives Have Seen the Future and It Is a
Glitzy, Revenue-Spinning Machine Patterned After the Highly
Successful NBA" (FINANCIAL POST, 11/9).
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