The D.C. Armory's role in housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees may force the relocation of next month's Marine Corps Marathon Runners' Expo.

As first reported in Sunday's Washington Times, the armory cannot host the expo on Oct. 28 and 29 if evacuees are still living there.

Cameron Ballantyne, a spokesman for the Red Cross of the National Capital Area, said yesterday that there is no timetable for the departure of the approximately 140 evacuees currently staying at the armory, making it increasingly likely that race organizers will have to find an alternate location. Marine Corps Marathon Director Rick Nealis said yesterday that moving the expo would increase organizers' costs from about $100,000 to $300,000 and set a Friday deadline for a decision.

"We want to show the world that not only are we taking care of evacuees . . . but at the same time we're going to put on a world-class event," Nealis said.

The expo requires 60,000 square feet of space to accommodate approximately 225 vendors, thousands of runners and their guests and an area for the 30,000 registered runners to pick up race materials for Oct. 30's Marine Corps Marathon. The space requirement limits organizers' alternatives, but they are considering holding the event under a tent in the RFK Stadium parking lot.

Nealis said that, if the expo must be moved, he hopes the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which oversees the operation of the armory, helps to find an alternate location and finance the move.

Said Nealis: "Are they obligated? No. They're doing something good" by housing evacuees.

D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission spokesman Tony Robinson is hopeful the armory can host the expo but was realistic about the situation.

-- Rich Campbell