MANILA, Philippines - The country's sports officials are divided on the issue of where to construct a P300 million football coliseum envisioned to be the home base of the national football team.
The location was unresolved during the recent hearing of the House committee on youth and sports development, chaired by Camarines Sur Rep. Renato Unico, deliberating on House Bill 4298, which appropriates P300 million for the construction of a 75,000-capacity world-class football stadium.
The measure was authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (Abante Mindanao party-list).
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ricardo Garcia told the committee that the PSC and the Philippine Football Federation and International Football Federation (FIFA) have agreed to fund the renovation of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, making it the football coliseum of the Philippines.
"FIFA agreed to infuse $500,000 yearly for the renovation of the football field and the stadium according to international standards," Garcia said.
But Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco said Clark is the more ideal location for a world-class football stadium compared to the Rizal Memorial.
"The Rizal Memorial Complex cannot provide parking spaces for the seating capacity of 25,000 to 75,000 persons," Cojuangco told lawmakers.
Cojuangco said the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) gave a grant of $50,000 to POC for the preparation of a master plan of a sports complex in Clark. He said the project is supported by the International Olympic Committee.
Unico said the PSC could get financial support from the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for the construction of the football stadium, if the commission could only get its mandated five percent share, approximately P1.2 billion a year, from Pagcor revenues.
Rodriguez said the country needs a bigger and better football stadium for the Philippine Azkals.
He said the Panaad stadium in Bacolod with 20,000-capacity is the biggest of the five football stadiums in the country.
"In contrast, our neighbors in Asia have bigger and better stadiums. Indonesia has the Bung Kamo Stadium with a 100,000 capacity, Vietnam has the My Dinh stadium with a capacity of 30,000, Cambodia has the 50,000-capacity National Olympic Stadium, Singapore the 55,000-capacity Stadium of Singapore and Myanmar the 40,000-seater Bogyoke Aung San Stadium," Rodriguez said.
He said the Panaad stadium is not enough to accommodate a big number of spectators.
"As the sport gains popularity, so does the number of Filipinos who want to see our team perform live in action," he said.