POLLIN, ABE

POLLIN, ABE
POLLIN, ABE (1923– ), U.S. sports owner, philanthropist. Pollin's parents were immigrants from Russia who came to America as teenagers with no money and no knowledge of the English language. His father taught himself to read and write, and worked his way up as a plumbing and heating contractor, to the point where he became the largest contractor in Washington with 250 employees. He was the first chairman of Israel Bonds in Washington, and was present at the meeting on November 8, 1946, when money was collected to purchase the Exodus the next day. Pollin was born in Philadelphia, and moved to Washington, D.C., when he was eight, growing up seven blocks from Griffith Stadium. He graduated from George Washington University in 1945, and went to work for his family's construction company for 12 years. He then started his own construction company in 1957. In 1964 Pollin purchased the NBA's Baltimore Bullets for $1.1 million, the most anyone had ever paid for a team at that time, and then moved the team in 1973 to Landover, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. The Washington Bullets won the NBA champion-ship in 1978. He later changed the name of the basketball team from Bullets to Wizards, three months after yitzhak rabin was gunned down, saying "the name Bullets is no longer appropriate." In 1972, Pollin received an N.H.L. franchise that later became the Washington Capitals. Pollin, chairman and CEO of Washington Sports & Entertainment, twice built a multi-million dollar sports and   entertainment arena. On December 2, 1973, he opened the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and 24 years later, on December 2, 1997, he opened the MCI Center in the middle of downtown Washington, D.C., which was a cornerstone in helping to revitalize the downtown area. Both arenas were considered state of the art facilities, the standard for new arenas throughout the world. By 2006, Pollin was in his 42nd season of ownership, making him the longest-tenured owner in the National Basketball Association. Together with his wife, Irene, Pollin's philanthropic and humanitarian work was widespread: he served as chairman of the Advisory Council for UNICEF and was on the international board of the Red Cross; he was president of the Advisory Board of the American Foundation for Autistic Children, honorable chairman of the Salvation Army's Leadership Committee for Centers of Hope, a founding partner of the National Health Museum, and co-sponsor of the "I Have a Dream Foundation" through which he has personally guaranteed college education for some 60 students in Maryland. Pollin also works with business and government leaders in Washington to help the city's homeless population, and helps administer a host of D.C. programs including Abe's Tables, Food For Kids, Serving Seniors Thanksgiving Dinner, Pollin Award, Read To Achieve, Our House Rules, Annual Turkey Basket Giveaway, and The Wizards Kids 'n Kops program. Pollin and his wife established the Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research, administered by New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Irene Pollin, president and founder of the Linda and Kenneth Pollin Foundation, was founder and chairperson of the Sister to Sister – Everyone Has a Heart Foundation. Pollin was awarded the Duke Ziebert Capital Achievement Award for helping to revitalize downtown Washington, and was the recipient of the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, presented by the U.S. Army; the 1996 Robert F. Kennedy-Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, presented by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; the 1996 United Cerebral Palsy Achievement Award; and the 1997 Jewish Leadership Award. (Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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