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Abe Pollin Consolidates Sports Franchises

paraphrased from the Washington Post, 28 July 1995, by Richard Justice

Abe Pollin is preparing to consolidate his sports organization under a single business organization, to oversee the finances, sales, community relations, and customer services. The new branch will be called Washington Sports and will oversee all aspects of the Washington Bullets, Washington Capitals, and the proposed MCI Center.

Susan O'Malley, who is currently the president of the Washington Bullets, will be named president of Washington Sports. Wes Unseld, who is currently executive vice president of the Bullets, will be executive vice president of the organization. Both will also retain their current positions with the Bullets. Other aspects of the hockey and basketball operations will not change.

Susan O'Malley continues her rapid broadening of responsibilities. She joined the Bullets as director of marketing in 1986 and eventually worked her way to being president of the team in 1991. Under her leadership, the Bullets significantly increased attendance from an average of 9,814 in 1988-89 to 17,100 in 1994-95, including selling out 30 of 41 games. All of this despite a team that continued to pile up losing seasons. She was the first woman to head (not own) a sports franchise in the U.S.

Wes Unseld has been with the Bullets for 27 years and is one of Pollin's closest associates. The Hall of Fame center played for the Bullets for 13 years, including during their only championship season (1977-78). He also coached the team for 6 1/2 years, stepping down after the 1993-94 season. Since then, he has worked in the front office, primarily planning for and selling the proposed MCI Center.

wtf note: The changes were made official on 2 August 1995. The goal is to pump up falling attendance and revenue figures for the Washington Capitals and unify Pollin's sports management unit. It will probably work.

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