Bullets to correct glitches that marred Arena visit


Faced with complaints about the Baltimore Arena that included a lack of heat, a malfunctioning scoreboard and under-inflated basketballs for the Washington Bullets-Philadelphia 76ers game Wednesday night, Bullets management said it will correct the problems before the team's next appearance there Jan. 25 against the Indiana Pacers.

"One thing we're going to do is bring an auxiliary scoreboard whenever we play at the Arena," said Bullets executive vice president Susan O'Malley.

Wednesday night's game -- the first of four appearances by the Bullets in Baltimore this season -- was marred by frequent confusion over the time. Play was stopped repeatedly while the referees checked the official time with the scoring table.

"The funny thing is that we checked everything out on the scoreboard at 2 p.m. the day of the game and it worked fine," said O'Malley. "I'm not happy about all the problems that occurred, but it was not for a lack of effort."

The Bullets, of course, could not complain too strenuously. The Baltimore Arena is operated by Centre Management, which also runs the Capital Centre and several other sports arenas in the country.

"The Arena is an old building, and we'll just have to schedule more operational meetings to make sure everything works," O'Malley said. "We'll try to figure out what can go wrong, and ways to correct it."

Gary Hale, director of operations for the Arena, blamed the scoreboard's failure on a "glitch in basketball software."

Hale said that the scoreboard functioned without any problems during an earlier basketball game between the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Boston University.

"I don't think there is a virus in the basketball program," Hale said. "We should have it corrected within the week."

Asked about fan complaints about the lack of heat, Hale said, "I was working in the building almost all day, wearing mostly a T-shirt. I didn't feel cold, but some people did complain. The players didn't, though, and they're usually the first to beef."

Before the game, lead official Jake O'Donnell discovered all the game balls were soft. He recruited Bullets aide Dolph Sands to solve the problem. Sands could not find a pump in the Arena and had to enlist the help of the Bullets bus driver, who provided an air pump.

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