POC eyes INC-owned stadium as training siteBy June Navarro |Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee has shelved a plan to build a sports center in Clark Field, Pampanga, shifting its focus on the sprawling Philippine Arena which is nearing completion in Marilao, Bulacan, as the training hub of national athletes.
A world-class sports facility owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo and situated next to the north-bound lanes of NLEx, the Philippine Arena is being built on 7.5 hectares of land and will have a dome of 3.6 hectares. It is said to be the largest multipurpose arena in the world.
“We temporarily shelved the idea of putting up a sports center in Clark Field,” said POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. yesterday. “We’re seriously looking at the facilities of the Iglesia ni Cristo.”
The local Olympic body has long wanted to have its own training center with the former United States Air Force base seen as a possible training venue for athletes, apart from the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.
Cojuangco said the regular turnover of officials in Clark Field has prevented the POC from pushing through with the ambitious project.
Aside from the Rizal complex, athletes have been training at government-owned facilities like Philsports in Pasig City and Teacher’s Camp in Baguio.
The Philippine Arena, which is expected to be completed in the middle of next year, in time for the INC’s 100th year anniversary, is the crown of a huge complex where a hospital, school and stadium are also being built.
“Instead of building a new sports center, let’s try to arrange something for the athletes there,” said Cojuangco.
The Philippine Arena has a seating capacity of 55,000 while the construction of the entire complex is worth P9.4 billion, an enormous amount that even the government cannot afford for a sports facility.