When the season-opening PBA Philippine Cup unfurls later this week do not be surprised if as it progresses it makes detours in the cities of Manila and Pasig.
This, after the Philippine Basketball Association expressed its interest in bringing some of the games at the refurbished Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila and PhilSports Multipurpose Arena in Pasig apart from the usual league venues in the metro of Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena.
Both Rizal Memorial and PhilSports Arena were used as venues for the 30th Southeast Asian Games which the country hosted last December and underwent significant renovations.
They were recently inspected by PBA personnel and reports have it that they came away impressed and are considering bringing league matches in said venues.
Being a long-time fan of the PBA, I surely welcome this planned detour to Rizal Memorial and PhilSports Arena, incidentally both managed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
I think it is a great opportunity to bring the league to the people in those parts of the metro who may find going to Araneta and MOA too much of a stretch considering, among other factors, the kind of traffic we have in Metro Manila.
I had the chance to check out the newly refurbished Rizal Memorial during the SEA Games and the recently held Badminton Asia Team Championship, and I must say I was impressed with what they have done with the venue.
When I was there some work is still being done but they were basically wrap-up work.
The “new” Rizal Memorial, with fully functioning air-conditioning system and comfortable seating, can surely accommodate a good-sized PBA crowd.
Bringing the PBA there will surely expose more people, especially the younger ones, to the rich history of the venue which was host to many marquee sports events in the past.
It can also help the PSC generate more funds, stemming from the income the games would generate, while also benefitting business in the surrounding areas.
Parking may be an issue at the moment in the venue especially with the expected work in the Harrison Plaza area, but all in all the PBA in Rizal Memorial is a good proposition.
The same goes for PhilSports Arena, or “ULTRA” for those in the same age bracket as me.
ULTRA was used to be a steady home to the PBA in the late ‘80s and early 1990s before the league moved to the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay and back to Araneta.
With its location in the middle of the metropolis I think it can lure more people from the north and south as well as those from Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan and Rizal areas.
Like Rizal Memorial, facilities in PhilSports have improved and spectators trekking to the venue can bask in them as they enjoy the games.
Parking, too, is not so much a problem like back in the day with areas like the nearby Capitol Commons having ample parking slots, apart from the different dining areas in the place.
While it remains to be seen if the PBA does push through with plans to make detours to Rizal Memorial and PhilSports Arena, still, considering the upside these have it is worth exploring and making a go at.
Make it happen, PBA.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.