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MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan - Construction for the world’s biggest dome-arena has started at Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Named the Philippine Arena, the dome is a centerpiece project of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), which is expected to be completed within 30 months in time for the INC’s centennial celebration in 2014.
It will have a seating capacity of 50,000 to 55,000, a floor area of 74,000 square meters and a domed roof which is nearly 36,000 square meters - which makes it the largest dome arena in the world.
The project, which is now starting its civil works, will be conducted in design-build process with an estimated construction value of $212 million or a whopping P9 billion.
“At first, foreign consultants were shocked and could not believe in our plan to build such an extremely large structure,” said Glicerio Santos Jr., general auditor of INC.
“Structural and architectural engineers, design planners and builders are fantastic team from world-renown Populous of Australia, Burro Happold of United Kingdom and Hanwha E & C Corporation of Korea,” he added.
Santos said that this early, a foreign company is dealing with INC to come up with a contract of holding an international circus show in the arena.
According to Eduardo Manalo, Executive Minister of Iglesia Ni Cristo, the project is intended not only for their growing membership, major church gatherings and church centennial celebration.
“This is a dream come true for Eraño V. Manalo, whose vision in building the facility is to serve and share God’s blessings to the community -– local or international.”
“The Ciudad de Victoria where Philippine Arena is being constructed will also be the home to EGM Memorial Medical Center, New Era University Bulacan campus, New Era University Sports Stadium Complex and EVM Convention Center, capable of holding a wide range of events,” Manalo also said.
“When INC first contacted us, we didn’t know a lot about the Philippines. We were astonished because the project is ambitious and unusual. It is twice bigger than Staple Center in Los Angeles, California with 21,000 sitting capacity and beating O2 Arena in London with 30,000 seats,” said Andrew James, structural design consultant from Populous.
“It is our honor and privilege to be part of this magnificent project that was masterfully planned with fully-air conditioned building," Chris Sparrow, engineering consultant of Burro Happold, shared.
“The Philippine Arena is three times bigger than the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Stadium, Korea’s largest indoor arena,” Kim Hyun-chung, CEO of Hanwha Engineering & Construction Corporation, said.
Gracing the recent groundbreaking ceremony, along with Eduardo V. Manalo, INC officials and foreign consultants, were House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Senator Francis Escudero, Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Bocaue Mayor Eduardo Villanueva Jr. and Sta. Maria Mayor Bartolome Ramos.
Belmonte said that the arena is the biggest of its kind, a phenomenal structure, historic and centerpiece project.
“I congratulate the Iglesia ni Cristo for setting-up the Philippine Arena at the center of Bulacan. Whatever development that Bocaue and Santa Maria will enjoy, it will cascade down to all barangays and will benefit the whole province and the country as well. This is not just a wise decision to locate here but a manifestation of God’s blessing,” Alvarado said.
“We are very glad hosting this project. It will greatly help boost tourism in Bulacan. Ciudad de Victoria at the border of Bocaue and Santa Maria along North Luzon Expressway is a rain-fed area, that’s why land use conversion is not a big problem in fast tracking the project,” the governor added.
Mayor Ramos, for his part, lauded INC’s effort, saying it will create employment, livelihood opportunities and more economic activities for Bulakenyos.
It could be remembered that the Araneta Coliseum or the “Big Dome” in Cubao was once the world’s biggest indoor dome for having a dome-shape roof measuring 108 diameters.
It was beaten by Oita Stadium, also known as “The Big Eye” in Japan in 2001 for having a retractable roof measuring a diameter of 274 meters. In 2009, the Oita Stadium was beaten by the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas by just one meter.