Home Ground – Football Stadium in Philippines

A bit of news being passed around several months ago was House Bill 4298, which appropriates 300 million pesos for the construction of a 75,000-capacity world-class football stadium in the Philippines. Now that's quite an ambitious goal but if carried out properly, it would be a good development for the Philippine football community.

We would have a proper home ground for our national football teams. A 75,000-capacity stadium is huge. If we could fill that, it will be quite an experience, not only for the spectators but for the players as well. I have been to the Bernabeu, home ground of Real Madrid, and watched a few matches there. It is an 80,000-capacity stadium. Around the globe, it’s not the only one of that size. Close to us, there’s the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta; an 88,000- capacity stadium; Estadio Azteca in Mexico City accommodates 104,000 spectators; Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo in Ecuador; 83,000-stadium capacity; Westfalenstadiun in Germany; 80,000-stadium capacity; Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul; 75,000-stadium capacity; Japan, Seoul and others also have their fair share of high capacity football stadiums.

It would be truly great for us to have something like that for Philippine football here. A venue for international matches and premiere football fixtures that we could be proud of and where we can derive maximum enjoyment from the experience of watching a live football match.

Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo via bleachersbrew
Furthermore, a world-class stadium and venue for football would enhance our Federation's ability to attract high profile teams to play here and increase our chances of securing rights to hosting tournaments. In turn, these events provide revenue streams for the Federation and the country. They also provide opportunity for us to not only raise the profile of Philippine football domestically but internationally as well as these matches are usually huge media events. The bigger the teams involved, the larger the media profile, exposure, and it also becomes a pretty good occasion for projecting a positive image of our country.

I fully agree with the objective of establishing a world-class home ground for our national teams. This is a logical step forward in the development of football in the Philippines.

Now, whether 300 million pesos will be enough to fund a world-class 75,000-capacity football stadium remains to be seen. Personally, I think that will not be enough for a proper stadium of that size. However, if Congress appropriates the money for that purpose and allows some form of partnership with a local government unit and/or private investors, now we're looking at something feasible. It's a starting point and the online community of Philippine football supporters and advocates has been discussing this development at length. There are lots of pros and cons involved and some very valuable and interesting insights have been raised and debated in those discussions.

I find merit in the debate concerning the size of the stadium. Going for 75,000 seating capacity might be a bit premature at this stage. Large capacity means larger income and lower prices, but there are other factors involved too such as accessibility, supporting infrastructure, etc. Some have suggested 30-40,000 capacity and that might be worth looking into.

The size of the stadium is critical as this not only impacts the cost to build it and then maintain once it is operational, it also impacts the question on where it should be located. The latest bit of news on this topic noted that at the House Committee hearing they couldn't agree on where the stadium should be located. In online discussions there was spirited debate on this matter also. Clark has been mentioned, and so has the reclamation area in the vicinity of the Mall of Asia in southern Metro Manila with regard to NCR. Of course, there also advocates for locating the stadium in the traditional hotbeds of the sport in this country, in Western Visayas. Bukidnon and Davao also get mentioned on behalf of Mindanao.

Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City
My take on this issue is that if this is to be the home ground of our national football teams, then it should be in the vicinity of NCR or Clark. My consideration here is in relation to international matches. At the moment, most international flights go through the Metro Manila airports. This will be a factor for teams coming to play here, and it will facilitate matters if we make it as convenient for them as possible.

Of course, I would not want the other provinces to be neglected. I'd say let regions also have their own stadiums and this should be in fact be part of the over-all long-term plan. I only favor NCR or Clark in terms of the home ground for the national football teams.

Another relevant point of discussion is whether to build one from scratch or to rehabilitate and/or renovate existing ones such as Rizal Memorial Football Stadium and Panaad Stadium in Bacolod. This is a practical option also and may even provide better value for the money appropriated for the purpose. A sort of two stadiums for the price of one deal. UMAK was mentioned in discussions on this topic. However, I think the City of Makati has more than enough resources to fix up the UMAK football grounds and stadium.

There are other points of consideration too, such as parking issues and infrastructure in relation to access to the location, amenities, services, etc. There is also the issue of sustainability and maintenance costs.

The good thing is that the bill is still in the committee level at the House of Representatives, which means it isn't final and hearings are being conducted to debate the merits of the proposed legislation and perhaps fine-tune its provisions. This means there is opportunity to thresh out details to help ensure that this bill is properly crafted. That it will have the necessary provisions to ensure the effective implementation of efforts aimed at achieving the goal of building a truly world class high capacity football stadium. Perhaps the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development should study some of the points and issues raised in the discussions in relation to the building of a football stadium. Public hearings or town hall type of consultations with the football community at large should enhance the work of the Committee in getting this bill passed.

Seating Chart, Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo via bleachersbrew

You see, there is still a long process ahead before this bill is passed and the possibility still exists that the bill may not even prosper. It is important that attention to details and proper studies are conducted so that the merits of the bill are strong enough for it to be passed into law.

As supporters, we love the passion we feel for this game. Part of that passion stems from the strong emotions that football tends to bring out in all of us and the need to defend our turf or home ground is one of the strongest emotion or feeling that we all possess. We've got a taste of this at Panaad and at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. So if Congress is looking to give us a bigger taste of defending our home ground with a proper stadium, whether it is Panaad, Rizal or a totally new stadium, then let's go for it.

2012 Moira G Gallaga©