- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2002

Police will close a section of the Capital Beltway in Landover for about half an hour this morning as a safety precaution for the scheduled demolition of the US Airways Arena.
Beginning about 7:50 a.m., police will close the Beltway at the Route 202 exit southbound and the Route 214 exit northbound. The Beltway is expected to reopen about 8:15.
The saddle-shaped domed arena a local landmark for nearly 30 years will be demolished by implosion about 8 a.m. Spectators will be able to watch the implosion from Central Avenue.
The property is being redeveloped for a $60 million entertainment and retail complex, and its owner, Abe Pollin, has named the new complex Boulevard at the Capital Centre, the arena's original name. Mr. Pollin, owner of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals, sold the naming rights of the Capital Centre in a $10 million, 10-year deal with USAir Group Inc., in 1993.
Completed in 1973, the Capital Centre was built in 15 months at a cost of $18 million and stood as a state-of-the-art sports arena that offered the country's first skyboxes, plush private booths that corporate clients pay dearly to lease and are now a big revenue source for teams.
A four-sided scoreboard with giant TV screens hung at center court and gave fans their first look at instant-replay in color while sitting at a game. The 18,000-seat arena was also the first to use electronic ticketing.
The Cap Centre, as it was commonly called, first opened its doors Dec. 2, 1973, for the NBA's transplanted Baltimore Bullets to play their first home game in Landover as the Capital Bullets. (The Capital Bullets were renamed the Washington Bullets in 1974 and are the Wizards today.)
In 1974, a sellout crowd watched the Capitals lose 6-3 to the New York Rangers in the first hockey game at the arena, and the Capitals finished the season 8-67-5.
The Bullets were host to three NBA Championships at the Cap Centre, although their only title was won away from home, in Seattle in 1978.
The stadium was the site of several NBA and NHL all-star games, including in 1980, when Boston Celtic Larry Bird hit the first all-star three-pointer. Georgetown University played home games there. Those games included Patrick Ewing's many battles with University of Virginia star Ralph Sampson.
It was also the site of one of the longest games in NHL history, a four-overtime playoff matchup April 24, 1996, that the Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Musical acts made the arena a regular stop on their tour schedules. Artists included the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson. Frank Sinatra sang there during Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural gala.
For about two decades, the annual Washington International Horse Show was also held there.
In 1997, Mr. Pollin completed the $175 million MCI Center in the District and moved his sports teams into the new facility. Since then, the arena had languished in its suburban setting.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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