By Stephen Owens Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown University Athletic Director Joseph Lang recently announced renovation plans that would transform 2,200-seat McDonough Gymnasium into a 5,500-seat arena. This renovation would most likely allow the men’s basketball team to play at least some of its Big East games on campus instead of downtown at MCI Center, which seats just over 20,000.

While men’s basketball Head Coach Craig Esherick is eager and excited about the potential of playing some home games at an on-campus arena, the renovations to McDonough would not be made for at least five years, according to Lang.

The reason for the lengthy delay has to do with other on-campus construction projects that are more pressing, such as the Southwest Quadrangle project and renovations and additions to the Ryan Administration building to create a new MBNA Performing Arts Center.

At present, the university plans to move many of the athletic offices that now reside in McDonough to the new stadium, freeing considerable space within the gymnasium. With the extra space, additional seats could be added that could accommodate Big East crowds.

Once the current building projects, additions and adjustments are made to the Hilltop, the McDonough renovations will rise to the forefront. The long-term renovation plans stipulate that the court will be rotated about 90 degrees and the seats will rise towards each end which currently honors the program’s various accomplishments and greatest players.

Currently, there are no plans to build a new arena that could hold even bigger crowds than a renovated McDonough. In published reports in The Washington Post, Georgetown officials have cited space limitations for parking as well as space for the stadium itself.

In response to the recent housing crunch on campus due to an increase in enrollment, the university is building a new dorm on campus that will house 750 students. A second project is to renovate and add on to the Ryan Administration building to create theater space and practice rooms for the performing arts department. A third project that takes priority over the McDonough renovations involves the alteration and expansion of athletic fields, such as turning Harbin Field into a stadium. When the football team joins the Patriot League in the fall of 2002, it will almost necessitate a larger stadium. At present, Kehoe is the smallest field in the Patriot League in terms of seating capacity. This second project also includes plans for the construction of a facility for team locker rooms as well as several athletic department offices that would be located in the new stadium

An on-campus arena is intended provide the Hoyas with a much stronger home-court advantage than MCI Center offers them. While a renovated McDonough Gymnasium will hold about 2,000 less people than the average attendance last season at MCI Center, the athletic department hopes it will encourage more students to attend home games, many of whom were turned off by the 20-minute ride downtown to MCI Center in a school bus.

Splitting time between an on-campus arena and a larger facility is nothing new for many teams, especially in the Big East conference. The 1999 national champion University of Connecticut Huskies split time between the 10,000-seat Gampel Pavilion, which is on campus and the larger Hartford Civic Center, which is early an hour away. St. John’s uses 6,000-seat Alumni Hall in addition to adison Square Garden.

Without an on-campus arena, many fans have felt that the Hoyas have been placed at a significant disadvantage in recent years as the program has sat with its hands tied while competing programs have built on- campus arenas. Pittsburgh has an on-campus arena under construction and Miami is planning to build one soon. Other Big East schools, such as Villanova and Boston College use on-campus arenas of 6,500 and 8,500 seats, respectively.

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