- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

The Washington Wizards, seeking to quell a firestorm of angry fans seeking some sign of direction from the team, are offering refunds to season-ticket holders unsatisfied with the team’s actions this offseason.

Owner Abe Pollin, in a letter that will be sent to season-ticket holders Monday, will pay back in full any deposits to account holders who want them after the offseason. Initial season-ticket deposits are due within the next several weeks and in the past have been non-refundable.

“If you renew your Wizards ticket plan now, you are doing so at no risk,” Pollin writes in the letter. “If you are not satisfied following the off-season, you will not risk your deposit. I am confidant [sic] that you will be pleased with our new direction and you will look forward to coming out again for another exciting season.”

Pollin’s surprising letter comes as the team operates without a president of basketball operations or a coach following yesterday’s firing of Doug Collins. Also, general manager Wes Unseld will take a leave of absence after next month’s draft.

Since Pollin parted ways with Michael Jordan in acrimonious fashion more than three weeks ago, public indicators of the club’s course have been almost non-existent. The silence has only fueled fan outrage over the departure of the popular Jordan, even though he failed to produce a winner either as a player or an executive.

Pollin also says in his letter he is seeking “the brightest available basketball minds in the business.”

Existing season-ticket holders, as well as new orders, are generally required to submit 50 percent of their tickets costs as deposit, with the balance paid shortly before the regular season starts. Prices for 2003-04 season tickets range from $622.50 a seat for the season to $7,262.50. The Wizards also sell 150 premium floor seats at $750 a seat per game.

The Wizards entered the 2002-03 season with about 12,000 season tickets sold, counting the club section, which is sold on a multi-year basis. Even with Pollin’s latest offer, a significant drop from that level is all but certain. Immediately before Jordan’s return to the court in 2001, the Wizards were below the NBA average in attendance and received no national coverage for games.

“This is a pretty straightforward statement on Mr. Pollin’s part,” said Wizards spokesman Matt Williams. “He’s basically saying, ‘Look. I am confident this will work,’ and he obviously is hoping season-ticket holders feel the same.”

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