- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2001

Owner Steve Comiskey and Washington Power management have assembled a championship-caliber team in the National Lacrosse League, but the team needs an infusion of fan support, sponsors and investors to stay in the area beyond this season.

Comiskey and partners in ownership of the Power, the NLL's most popular team, have entered preliminary discussions with four potential buyers of the franchise that would move it from the District after this season.

"We are talking to four different groups right now in four cities," said Power president and general manager Steve Govett, who added there are groups in two U.S. cities and two Canadian cities interested in buying the team.

Comiskey's primary goal is to find one or more groups of investors that will keep the team in the area, but has been unsuccessful. Comiskey said he has been forced to listen to interested buyers from outside the metro Washington area. Given the lack of support for the team in its one-plus seasons here, finding a local buyer doesn't seem likely, Govett said.

Comiskey said he takes the blame for any shortsightedness or misjudgment of expectations, but reiterated that the product is not the problem. The Power feature high-scoring twins Gary and Paul Gait, are the league's best-drawing team on the road and are featured regularly on television in the U.S. (CNN/SI) and Canada.

He declined to discuss a prospective asking price for the team or the losses he has suffered, but admitted, "I don't have the financial capability" to operate the franchise in its current condition.

For now, the team is committed to playing the remainder of the season at Capital Centre. The next home game for 2-1 Washington is Jan. 5.

"We're trying to work through some issues, and figure out what the next step is," Govett said. "We're committed to play the season here until it becomes a financial burden until the wheels come off."

The team has about 1,000 season ticket-holders, and in its first two games drew an average of about 4,100 fans, but nearly half were courtesy or complimentary tickets.

Govett said he would be encouraged if the team could draw 5,000 fans per game with 3,000 paying.

Govett also said the Power drew about 6,500 to its final game last year at MCI Center, and with the Power playing in its own building the only NLL team that is the sole tenant of its arena ownership was optimistic that they could build from there. It hasn't happened.

"I'm disappointed that we weren't supported by the lacrosse community," Govett said. "We said from the beginning they would make it work or not."

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