Clark ‘almost-certain’ site for new Rizal Memorial Stadium

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    CLARK FREEPORT – This freeport is most likely the venue for a new P3.5- billion national stadium replacing Manila’s old Rizal Memorial Stadium, following inspection last Monday of two proposed sites here by the House Committee on Youth and Sports, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and the Philippine Olympics Committee (POC).

    Pampanga 1st District Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao, chairman of the House’s Technical Working Group (TWG) for the project, cited an area near the Clark International Airport as probable site for the new stadium.

    Guiao, House Committee on Youth and Sports chairman Rep. Anthony del Rosario, POC President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, PSC Chairman Ricardo Garcia inspected two proposed sites, the other one being in the socalled Sacobia area within the Clark reservation in Tarlac which turned out to be “too far and too undeveloped.”

    Representatives from the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) joined the inspection sortie.

    Some 50 hectares are being eyed for the new stadium to replace Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium that occupies only 10 hectares.

    Guiao and CIAC President-CEO Emigdio Tanjuatco said the proposed stadium would not affect future expansion plans for the Clark airport. In an interview, Tanjuatco said that enough space is reserved for future plans even beyond 2032 to accommodate an estimated 80 million passengers annually.

    For his part, Guiao, who has been pushing for the relocation of the Rizal stadium to Clark, assured Central Luzon folk that “I will not allow anything to adversely affect future expansion plans for the Clark airport.”

    CIA still priority “We assure all that airport height restrictions in the proposed stadium will be observed. The priority is still our airport,” he said.

    Guiao said the TWG which he heads is rushing with its work for submission to Del Rosario’s committee. “Congressional intervention is needed not only for possible funding, but also for legislation that would declare the new Clark stadium as the official stadium of the country,” he added.

    “The Rizal stadium is not functioning anymore. It is hounded by traffic problems and obsolete facilities,” Guiao observed.

    He said that apart from national government funding, other possiblesources of funds for the new stadium include the same of the 10-hectare land of the Rizal Memorial Stadium. “But this is a problem because the family which donated the land imposed the condition that it would be used only for sports stadium,” he noted.

    Guiao also cited the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) as another possible funding source.

    “Pagcor owes PSC about P12 billion, because since the Ramos administration, it has been remitting only 2.5 percent of its earnings to PSC instead of the supposed five percent,” he said.

    Guiao said that the funds could also be legislated in the national budget on a staggered basis.

    He expressed confidence that the Clark area would be considered for the stadium, as he noted that the offer of the local government of Tagaytay City to be venue for the new stadium was “impractical,” as land there would be much costlier and that only about 10 hectares seemed available. “It’s almost certain that Clark will be the area,” he said.

    The Rizal Memorial Stadium had served as the main stadium of the 1954 Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games on three occasions. It was renovated in 2011, but has deteriorated since then. The stadium is also is officially the home of the Philippines national football team.

    – with Ding Cervantes

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