SBD/1/Facilities Venues

WASHINGTON PREPARES TO OPEN NEWEST MONUMENT: MCI CENTER

          The opening of the MCI Center on Tuesday night was
     featured in a special section in Sunday's WASHINGTON POST. 
     For Washington Sports Chair Abe Pollin, construction of the
     new facility was a "huge challenge ... a four-year struggle,
     slowed for a half year by contaminated soil, a paralyzing
     snowstorm and asbestos," according to Heath & Montgomery. 
     Other setbacks included "so-called 'smart seats' that didn't
     work" and a successful lawsuit by the Paralyzed Veterans of
     America to increase the number of seats for wheelchair-bound
     spectators.  Heath & Montgomery: "Through it all, Pollin has
     been financially stretched, keeping US Airways Arena going,
     signing basketball and hockey players to million-dollar
     contracts and footing the bill for the construction of the
     MCI Center."  Pollin: "I've got everything I've ever done in
     my life on the line.  I've pledged everything.  My advisers
     think I'm nuts.  But I wanted to do something special for my
     town" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/30).  Pollin added in a meeting
     with POST editors that tickets to sports events are "too
     expensive" and that leagues should examine player salaries
     "as a way to curtail" admission prices.  Pollin: "It bothers
     me enormously that no longer can a family of four see a
     game.  What's happened is the [player] salaries are so high,
     we have to keep raising ticket prices.  I don't want to
     raise my prices again" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/30).
          NOTES: With traffic a concern, MCI Center execs hope to
     keep the number of vehicles "under" 5,000 for each game.
     Pollin said that he hopes that half the fans, or 10,000
     people, will take the Metro....The arena has 109 luxury
     suites costing $100-175,000 a year, with a minimum five-year
     lease.  Those in luxury suites or the 3,000 premium club
     seats "will be provided separate parking, enter a separate
     entrance and dine in separate restaurants barred to the
     arena's 15,680 ordinary ticket holders."....Barry Silberman,
     President of Centre Management, which runs the MCI Center,
     said that the facility will host "about 200 events" a year.
     ...Pollin said that despite MCI's recent merger with
     WorldCom, he "expects" the name to remain MCI Center in
     accordance with the 13-year, $44M deal (WASHINGTON POST,
     11/30)....Some 700 tickets for Tuesday's opener, the Sonics-
     Wizards on TNT, "were released for sale yesterday."  The
     game had been listed as a sellout (WASHINGTON POST, 12/1).

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Facilities, TBS/TNT, US Airways

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