The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, currently home to the country's elite athletes and a structure that has stood for more than 80 years, will not be sold anymore to a private property developer, the government agency tasked to oversee it said on Wednesday.
The massive center located in downtown Manila, which is managed by the Philippine Sports Commission and sits on land owned by the city government, was being eyed for purchase by a group led by businessman Enrique Razon.
The Razon project would have put up condominiums and commercial centers inside the Rizal complex, but left alone the baseball park, the football pitch, the swimming pool and the coliseum.
But PSC chairman Butch Ramirez said the parties involved eventually decided to halt discussion over the Rizal complex's sale, citing the cultural importance of the "heritage site" built in 1934.
"After one year of negotiations, it was not the price but it was more of preserving what Rizal Memorial really stands for," said Ramirez, who forwarded a letter aborting the deal to Mayor Joseph Estrada.
"In the course of our negotiations, it was identified as a heritage site. We can move out of Rizal Memorial and Manila can take over but I don’t want to be blamed by the athletes and the Filipino people."
The 10-hectare sports complex serves as a residence and training ground for athletes, and a venue for international competitions. Several national sports federations also have offices there.
While it is mainly a sports facility, the structure itself is considered by organizations such as the National Commission for Culture and Arts, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines as an invaluable piece of local architecture.
Ramirez said the PSC will work with both government agencies to improve the Rizal complex.
"It’s more of listening to the athletes, to the Filipinos that majority would like to preserve the place," Ramirez said.
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