Officials at Howard University have announced approval of a preliminary design for a new university stadium that would seat 20,000 spectators and provide parking for 900 to 1,000 cars.

Planning for the proposed $15-million stadium and parking facility has been under way since 1977.

Planned for athletic, academic and entertainment interests, the preliminary design includes space for football, soccer and track and field events, rooms of physical education classes and facilities for live concerts. The university also expects to provide some type of portable roof so the stadium can be used for indoor commencement exercises when needed.

Inside the stadium would be office space for athletic programs, storage for atheletic equipment, sauna facilities, weight lifting rooms, team locker rooms, first aid stations, dressing quarters for officials and an X-ray room.

The parking garage would be built beneath the stadium. It would be available for extracurricular events at the university gymnasium, the student union or the campus auditorium and would be open during regular school hours. A tunnel for pedestrians would link the parking lot to the auditorium.

The plans include provisions for the handicapped.

The Office of Architecutural and Engineering Services at Howard is acting as a liaison between the university and the design constulant, Sulton Campbell Associates Chartered.

Phillip Cooper, director of architectural services, said the university has not determined when the project might begin because, among other things, officials are awaiting a schedule from Sulton pinpointing the date that the final design will be completed.

Cooper also said the university is still exploring several options of the design.

"We're still trying to find the concept for the type of facility the university needes," he said. "We intend to uses as much square footage as needed to complete the arena. We're exploring all the possibiiities."

Students and faculty members at Howard say they would like to have a new staduium at the main campus. In order to seat the large audiences that regularly attend home games, the university often must use Robert F. Kennedy Memoraial Stadium for football tames.

The new parking facilities would ease the present pinch at the university, Howard officials say. Except for limited two-hour residential permit parking, there are only five small lots available to Howard commuters.

University officials said they have not determined the source of funds for the new stadium.