Arena's woes won't keep Bullets away next year


It took a vote of support from Rod Thorn, National Basketball Association chief of operations, but the Washington Bullets apparently are committed to playing four games at the Baltimore Arena next season.

The first and last of the four Bullets games played at the Arena this season were marred by technical problems with the scoreboard, 24-second clock and the end-of-period horn.

"It's not only in Baltimore where these things happen," Thorn said. "When we get complaints from our officials, we try to rectify the problems. Unfortunately, it's been a recurring thing in Baltimore, but I'm certain it can be resolved."

After the Bullets beat the Atlanta Hawks at the Arena on Friday night, Hawks coach Bob Weiss said that he considered protesting because of several disputes over the time and number of team fouls. But Weiss did not file a formal protest.

"It's strange," said Bullets executive vice president Susan O'Malley, "but in both games where we had problems, the first with Philadelphia and the last with Atlanta, we checked out everything electrical up until 6 p.m., and everything worked fine. As soon as the players came out for their pre-game practice, everything went haywire."

As a precautionary measure in the future, O'Malley said that the Bullets would bring a backup scoreboard and horn that they use at the team's practice facility at Bowie State.

"We regard Baltimore as a nice market, and we want to maintain a presence there," O'Malley said. "If we get the help that the mayor's office has promised in selling tickets next season, I'm all but certain we will play four games at the Arena again."

This season, the Bullets averaged 10,327 spectators at the 12,000-seat downtown arena. That is almost 3,000 more than the top figure of 7,635 the first-place Baltimore Bullets drew in 1968-69. Overall, the Bullets are averaging 12,328 for 33 home dates this season.

An estimated 6,000 four-game packages at $60 were sold for Baltimore, but O'Malley expressed disappointment in the walk-up ticket sales for the games with Philadelphia and Atlanta.

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