A new basketball arena is in the plans at Georgetown University, but the next several years will be "a time of trial," Athletic Director Frank Rienzo says.
In his first public statement on the subject since baksetball Coach John Thompson said the lack of a first-class facility was the major reason he would consider leaving Georgetown, Rienzo said he was talking with both Capital Centre and the D.C. Armory about playing games there next season.
Georgetown played all its home games in the 4,000-seat McDonough Arena this season. Next season the Hoyas, developed into a top-20 contender by Thompson in his eight years on the Hilltop, will play a double round-robin schedule in the Big East Conference.
Rienzo said playing at off-campus sites would be only a stopgap measure. "College athletics and remaining on campus is important to us," he said. "It's important from the student body aspect."
He added, "We're going into a time of trial to see, as we outgrow this facility, if it makes sense for us to go to Capital Centre, stay in the city at the Starplex or the new convention center, or (build) a new arena here."
Rienzo said the completion of three capital building projects on campus, the uncertainity of the impact of cable television and the new conference makes it difficult to formulate plans for an arena that would be "reasonably sized" for the next 30 years.
The athletic director predicted that the Georgetown administration's position toward a new athletic facility and convocation center would be "reasonable if there is a financially solvent way of carrying out a project."
Rienzo said the Rev. Timothy J. Healy, S. J., president of the university, "has been genuinely interested" in the concept of an arena and convocation center for the last three years.
Rienzo did not indicate how arena funds would be raised. But he noted that the $7.5-million Yates Field House, which opened last summer and is used exclusively for intramural sports and recreation, was financed partly by student subscription.
Rienzo said he would sit down with Thompson and decide after the season how many of Georgetown's 1980-81 opponents are good enough draws to take to Capital Centre, where at least 8,000 customers is considered a minimum unless the Centre lowers its rent.