MANILA – The Iglesia Ni Cristo on Monday unveiled the Philippine Arena, the world's largest domed arena, a week ahead of its celebration of its 100th anniversary.
With a land area of about 99,000 square meters, the Philippine Arena easily dwarfs the SM Mall of Asia Arena which has a land area of 64,085 square meters, and Araneta Colisuem with about 40,000 square meters.
The arena, which has a 55,000 seating capacity and a price tag of at least $200 million (P8.7 billion), is located in INC's 130-hectare Cidudad de Victoria (City of Victory) in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Philippine architectural feat has four levels. The parking area, offices, and stage can be found on level 1. On Level 2 are the main entrance from the great stairs, and lower bowl seats. The VIP rooms are on Level 3, while the concourse or general patronage area is found on Level 4.
A group of about 15 architects and 30,000 workers built the domed arena, the construction of which commenced on August 17, 2011 and ended last May 30, 2014.
Bessie Fetalvero, INC's in-house engineer, said the arena is a proscenium-type theater. She said this design allows all audiences in the arena to see what is on the stage.
She said the dome is equipped with acoustic curtains which could be lowered down if the dome will only accommodate fewer people. The bleachers located on the stage itself are also retractable.
The dome's fire exits and passageways are also placed in such a way that the entire arena can be vacated in just about six minutes during emergency situations.
The Philippine Arena officially opens today, as part of the grand celebrations for the INC's 100th anniversary.
Other major structures expected to be completed in the complex in the near future are the Philippine Stadium, New Era University, Eraño G. Manalo Medical Center, as well as shops, hotels, and leisure parks.
The INC is set to celebrate its centenary on June 27, Sunday, which Malacanang has already declared as a special non-working holiday.
The influential INC, which practices bloc voting during the elections, is the third largest denomination in the Philippines.