George Mason University said yesterday it plans to contract with the Capital Centre to manage a 10,000-seat arena that the state-supported school is building on its campus in Fairfax County.

College officials declined to release details of the contract yesterday, saying it will not be formally awarded until 10 days from now.

Under Virginia law, two other firms that had sought the contract have a right to contest the school's decision during those 10 days.

George Mason, however, is not required to act on their protests, a spokeswoman for the college said.

The $16.7 million arena, which will house school and public events, will be Northern Virginia's first major coliseum. When it is completed in May, it is expected to become a major attraction at the fast-growing commuter university, which has been adding 1,000 students a year and now has an enrollment of about 15,000.

The choice of the Capital Centre was made by the college's Board of Visitors at its bimonthly meeting yesterday. The Capital Centre beat out Spectator Management Inc. of Philadelphia and Facilities Management Group of Chicago, the spokeswoman said.

Spectator Management manages The Spectrum in Philadelphia, The Centrum in Worcester, Mass., and Three-River Stadium in Pittsburgh. It also recently won the contract to run the Richmond Coliseum, according to Helen Ackerman, director of public relations for George Mason.

Ackerman said the other competing firm manages the Superdome in New Orleans, the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, the Miami Convention Centre in Miami, the Long Beach Convention Centre in Long Beach, Calif., and the Moscone Centre in San Francisco.

The new George Mason arena has caused concern among area officials and residents who are already upset about traffic on nearby Braddock Road, one of the most congested roads in the county.

The Harlem Globetrotters and the new Walt Disney Ice Show have inquired about appearing at the arena after it opens next spring. Some Fairfax residents have expressed concern about the massive traffic tie-ups such events could produce.