PBA on track to build P4-billion coliseum

BANGKOK– Four years after it was first broached, the ambitious project of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to have its own coliseum remains very much on track.

Buddy Encarnado, the team manager of former league member Sta. Lucia Realty, is now supervising the gathering of data aimed at proving the feasibility of building a playing venue to serve as the permanent home of Asia’s oldest professional league.

“We are moving forward with it," PBA commissioner Chito Salud announced at the end of the two-day planning session here by the league Board of Governors. “Mr. Encarnado is our point man in this project and he has suggested we secure the services of a group to undertake putting up of a feasibility study for the PBA’s own home,"

For more than an hour, Encarnado, himself a former PBA chairman, apprised his former colleagues about the status of the project that was initiated in 2006 during the chairmanship of Talk `N Text’s Ricky Vargas.

Encarnado said a prime lot within Metro Manila has already been pinpointed as the possible site for the multi-billion playing arena, but he refused to reveal its exact location.

“It is about 1.5 hectares and the entire project could cost the PBA something close to P4 billion at this point," said Encarnado.

Once the feasibility study has been put together and gets the Board’s approval, and all other negotiations are done and over with, the groundbreaking should start sometime next year," he added.

Now on its 36th year, the PBA remains without a permanent playing venue, holding most of its games at the Araneta Coliseum, with the Astrodome, Ynares Arena in Pasig, Ynares Center in Antipolo and of late, the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila serving as alternative arenas.

Saving on expenses in venue rentals and holding the Metro Manila games in just one arena are two major advantages the league would enjoy in having its own coliseum.

And besides, as Encarnado pointed out, “we will not be pre-empted by other events, like cock derbies, concerts or the like."