Sunday, August 01, 2021

Limpag: Fans dream of arena foiled by politics

ONE of the things that excited a lot of sports fans in Cebu was the plan of SM City to build a world-class sports arena at Seaside at the South Road Properties. When The Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas presented its pitch to Fiba in its failed bid to host the Fiba World Cup, SBP even mentioned how the planned Mall of Asia-type Arena that was to rise in Cebu was going to be one of the venues of the tournament.
That was then.

Now, sports fans in Cebu can kiss their dreams of being able to watch basketball--or other indoor sports--in a world-class arena in cebu good bye after the management of the mall giant has reportedly put on hold investments in Cebu, thanks to politics.

It’s not the first time that a world-class sports venue fell victim to politics in Cebu. Remember the Mega-dome project of former governor Pablo Garcia? It never pushed through and instead it became the CICC, which right now is the most expensive eye-sore in Mega Cebu.

And here comes the latest victim. SM management, according to Bobby Nalzaro, is tired of the attacks of Mayor Tom Osmena and has decided to put the arena, among other things, on hold.

I’m not going to say whether the good mayor is right or whether SM is right, it’s just sad that one of the things sports fans are looking forward to is no longer in the picture because of development in the front pages.

That’s sad, isn’t it? Consider the last major basketball game to hit Cebu. San Miguel vs. Globalport. Do you know where it was played? In the hoopsdome in Lapu-Lapu City, where thousands of fans braved the traffic to watch homegrown stars strut their wares in the country’s big league.

Imagine how big the crowd would have been had it been played in a world-class venue right at SM Seaside.

Just imagine. Rather, keep on imagining because unless the political winds change direction, we’re back to 2004, talking about how Cebu needs a world-class venue for sports and other events.

It’s not only basketball matches that an arena at Seaside could host, there are boxing or even volleyball matches that could potentially draw a crowd there. Milan Melindo fought to a crowded Cebu Coliseum the last time ALA Promotions brought their Pinoy Pride boxing series outside of Waterfront, imagine the crowd future hall-of-famer Donnie Nietes could get in a spanking new venue?

But alas, it seems Donnie’s retirement will come first before Cebuano fans get to see a world-class venue in Cebu.
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