Abe Pollin, longtime owner of the Washington Wizards and one of the area's leading philanthropists, has died at age 85.
The popular sports mogul, who is credited with helping to spur a revival of downtown Washington with the construction of Verizon Center, had battled supranuclear palsey, a progressive disease that limited his movement. Specific details of his death were not immediately available.
Pollin was born in Philadelphia in 1923, moving to Washington D.C. to attend George Washington University. He built a successful construction contracting business and became part of an investment group that purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. In 1973, he built the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., relocating the team to the Washington area. He later announced that he was changing the team's name, believing that it had a negative connotation. A fan vote resulted in the renaming of the team to the Wizards.
In 1997, Pollin financed the constructed of the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, a move that is credited with sparking the revival of a once-neglected part of the city.
He is survived by Irene Pollin, his wife of 65 years.
"Abe Pollin was a great owner for Washington, as well as a personal friend," Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement released by the team. "His legacy will live through his teams and the arena he built, and just as importantly, through his commitment to his family and to Washington."