PFF pushes for PHL-Sri Lanka match at Rizal Stadium

Rizal Memorial Stadium
By Bong Pedralvez

IF the Philippine Azkals’ home World Cup qualifying match against Sri Lanka is held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on June 3, it could draw a sellout crowd and generate as much as P5 to 6 million in gate receipts, according to Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta Jr.

“The demand for having the match at the Rizal Memorial stadium is high, and we are being swamped with inquiries even this early for tickets,” Araneta said yesterday.

The Rizal Memorial Stadium is one of two options for the match, Araneta said, the other being the Panaad Sports Complex in Bacolod City.

“We hope to sell VIP tickets at the main grandstand for P1,000 each,” he added, “while special areas in the open bleachers could fetch P500. “Altogether we are eyeing P5 to P6 million from the gate sales.”

Araneta said unlike the Filipino booters’ match in Panaad last February, they will not give away free tickets since the association does not expect any subsidy from either the AFC or FIFA for the World Cup qualifier.

Meanwhile, a reliable source said the Philippine Sports Commission has no budget to finance the repairs needed at the Rizal Memorial Stadium to enable it to meet AFC and FIFA standards.

The same source suggested the PFF should solicit help from private sponsors to refurbish the stadium.

When Araneta and national team manager Dan Palami inspected the facility two weeks ago, they found out the grandstand bleachers needed reinforcement while the locker rooms were too low and cramped. There was also a need for a proper media room for post-match briefings.

Araneta and Palami suggested improvised air-conditioned tents to serve as the dressing rooms for the teams and found an area just beside the stadium for the media room.

Araneta and PSC chief Richie Garcia are scheduled to meet today and discuss the playing venue for the World Cup qualifying match.

Should the match push through, it will mark the first time since the 1991 Manila Southeast Asian Games the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, built before World War II, will stage an international match. Source