Washington Convention Center officials say they do not expect any sporting events to take place for another year at the newly opened $98.7 million facility, nor do they expect sports to be a top booking priority in the future.
According to Michael Rogers, the center's deputy general manager, 10,000 new theater-style seats will be installed by late 1983 or early 1984. Not until then will the center be able to host basketball, boxing, tennis or other sports.
"Even then I expect our top priority will be conventions and trade shows," said Rogers. "Given the seating capacity, we know we're not talking about pro basketball or a major college game like Virginia-Georgetown. We still won't have the seats. A team like UDC, say, might be able to play some games here, but not a full season. We won't have the dates available."
Rogers said the convention center would probably seat 8,500 for basketball, 10,000 for tennis and 10,000-14,000 for boxing.
George W. Demarest Jr., the center's general manager, said he was "thinking about events like high-school District basketball tournaments, some college games, or maybe something like the Virginia Slims tennis tournament."
The center has not set any dates for sporting events, nor has it received any inquiries from teams or booking agents, said Rogers.
The Senate voted last week to kill language in a District appropriations bill that would have prevented sporting events, circuses and concerts at the center.
Even though the vote was viewed as a defeat for Capital Centre owner Abe Pollin, the greater seating capacity at the Landover facility -- 19,035 for basketball, 18,130 for hockey and tennis, 20,811 for boxing--will probably continue to make it the site of most large-scale indoor sporting events in the area.
Nevertheless, promoters and college athletic officials are expressing interest in the convention center.
"The place would be a perfect in-town arena for boxing," said Rock Newman, a District boxing promoter.
"Frankly, this year the convention center would be too small for us. But in the future, who knows?" said Jim Marchiony, Georgetown sports information director, about moving the Hoyas from Capital Centre.
Some college athletic directors in the area, though, are interested in playing basketball in the new 900 Ninth St. NW building.
"Our facility is rather small, about 2,800, so there are some key games we play that could bring in more than that to the center," said Leo Miles, Howard athletic director.
Charles Moore, University of the District of Columbia athletic director, said, "We most definitely want to play basketball there sometime. We're going to need the space, especially if we can move up to Division 1 ball."
"It won't happen for another year or two, but we'd take (the center) under consideration down the line," said Chip Zimmer, George Washington University's acting athletic director. "But we haven't sold out Smith Center (capacity 5,000) consistently yet. We feel a duty to keep our games here for the most part."
Bob Frailey, American University athletic director, also said it was important to keep to the school's present facilities if possible.
"I believe very strongly that all events should be played on the campus," said Frailey. "We don't have that luxury with men's basketball (AU plays in Fort Myer), but it took a lot to get us off campus for that."