PSC halts sale of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex
The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex will stay on as a concrete reminder of the country’s rich sports history.
The Philippine Sports Commission has decided to keep the sprawling sports center in Manila and rehabilitate the facilities inside to continue serving the needs of the national athletes.
“After one year of negotiations, it was not the price but it was more of preserving what Rizal Memorial really stands for,’’ said PSC chair Butch Ramirez after the agency ended the negotiations with Manila for its possible sale.
Apart from taking care of the national athletes, Ramirez is also concerned about the historical structures housed inside the 10-hectare training venue and will work together with the National Commission for Culture and Arts and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for its renovation.
“In the course of our negotiations, it was identified as a heritage site. We can move out of Rizal Memorial and Manila can take over but I don’t want to be blamed by the athletes and the Filipino people,’’ said Ramirez.
Top Manila officials led by mayor Joseph Estrada seriously considered selling the 83-year-old complex to the group of businessman Enrique Razon. A source said it was estimated to be sold at P10-P15 billion.
The Razon group promised to preserve the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Rizal pool, Rizal ballpark and Rizal Football Stadium, the four main facilities identified as historical, but will build high-rise condominiums and commercial establishments within the walls of the RMSC.
“It’s more of listening to the athletes, to the Filipinos that majority would like to preserve the place,’’ said Ramirez, who had sleepless nights before the PSC terminated the deal with Manila through a letter sent to Estrada.
The PSC chief consulted Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Adviser Dennis Uy and other officials in Malacanang as well as his two sons in London and in California before the PSC board decided to stop the negotiations.
“My oldest son, Omar, even told me not to leave Rizal memorial and preserve the interests of the athletes. They’re my family. It’s a big thing if the closest people to you say no,’’ said Ramirez.
According to Ramirez, they’re looking at constructing one building that could house at least five to eight sports while they keep the historical facilities intact.
They will also tap an architectural or engineering firm to come up with the master plan of the new RMSC with the construction projected to begin in the first quarter of 2018.