Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo said yesterday that inquiries about season tickets for next season have almost doubled because of the basketball team's performance in the NCAA tournament.
Georgetown, which lost the NCAA championship game to North Carolina Monday night, already is reaping a financial bonanza from basketball. The school is getting $440,000 from the NCAA for advancing to the final four, approximately $210,000 in added television revenues for four nationally or regionally televised games during the season and approximately $700,000 in gate receipts at McDonough Arena and Capital Centre this season.
This season, about 6,300 season tickets were sold for the games at McDonough, on campus, and Capital Centre. Rienzo would not say how many season tickets the university now hopes to sell, but the school is running a major newspaper advertising campaign to take advantage of the best season (30-7) in its basketball history.
According to Rienzo, requests for information about season tickets are "increasing at a rate like I've never seen before. We've already had more inquiries about tickets than we had by the middle of last summer. The major reason we moved to the Capital Centre last year was to provide the opportunity of showing the team to a larger segment of the city residents. I think we accomplished that. And getting to New Orleans (site of the NCAA final) merely increased the interest.
"Another thing that has impressed me is the number of requests of community groups, city administrators and prominent citizens who want to do something for the team to show their appreciation of the joy they brought."
According to Andrew Kentz, director of Georgetown's alumni fund, people are showing their joy in other ways. Contributions are running about 32 percent ahead of last year's pace.
He estimated that the school might raise between $1.7 and $1.8 million this year, an increase of about $400,000. In addition, the Hoya Hoops Club, a booster group, has raised about $70,000 and Hoyas Unlimited, a booster club for the school's other sports, has surpassed its goal of $100,000.
The basketball team will return today from New Orleans and school officials have planned a public reception at Healy Circle, at the main entrance to the university at 37th and O streets NW, at approximately 4:30 p.m.
University officials, fearing a huge crowd at the airport, declined to disclose flight information. Rienzo said the team would not pass through the terminal, but would be picked up by bus immediately after landing. In case of inclement weather, the reception will take place in McDonough.
"Anyone who rides out to the airport will be very disappointed because they won't see the team," Rienzo said. "But we want everyone to join us in welcoming the team home on campus.
"We're very pleased that we were able to demonstrate to the entire country the quality of our people and the play they exhibited," he said. "And, John Thompson being honored as coach of the year shows he is finally receiving the overdue recognition we felt he always deserved. His team's participation in the final two is a credit to him and his team. We would have paid to have played in the final two."
Rienzo said requests for appearances by Thompson and his players are running high.
"My responsibility is to keep that to a minimum," Rienzo said. "I'll have to coordinate all of that. Remember, these kids have to get back to school business."