Rizal Stadium upgraded and ready for Azkals’ July 3 match

By Earl Victor Rosero

This time the Azkals’ home match will truly be at home.

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has promised that the Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium in Manila will be upgraded and ready a week before the World Cup Qualifiers match of the men’s national football team or Azkals against Sri Lanka on July 3.

In December last year, the Philippine Men’s National Football Team suffered the embarrassment of not being able to play before a home crowd during its historic semi-finals matches against Indonesia in the 2010 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup season.

Instead the Azkals played in Jakarta twice and lost to Indonesia both times while playing before huge hostile crowds.

The Pana-ad Stadium in Bacolod was not yet international standards-compliant back then.

Two months later in February, Pana-ad was ready for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup home game of the Azkals against Mongolia. The fixed floodlights at Pana-ad were augmented with additional floodlights hoisted on huge cranes.

Stadia regulations of the AFC provide that the venue of a sanctioned match must have a floodlighting system able to maintain a “minimum average of 1200 lux”. Lux is the intensity of light shining on a square meter of surface. The AFC also requires that the lights have an independent back-up power supply system that can maintain the needed light intensity “instantaneously and without interruption” in the event of a power failure.

Bonnie Ladrido, head of the local organizing committee, said the PFF will work with ABS-CBN, the local broadcaster of the July 3 game, on the needed lighting for Rizal Stadium. He adds that the broadcaster also has its lighting needs, so the committee opted to wait for their technical plan to avoid duplicating the broadcaster’s efforts.

He revealed that PFF and Philippine Sports Commission officials will inspect Rizal Stadium this week and confer on the progress of the renovation plans.

Last week, the Azkals had their afternoon drills and workouts at the Rizal pitch. At the end of their first session there, team captain Aly Borromeo said in a tweet, “Work to be done on the bleachers but surprised how nice the pitch is!”

Ladrido said the quality of the pitch, or the football field itself, is good, “We have to thank De La Salle University for that.” The university, a stone’s throw away from the stadium, has been maintaining the pitch for the part-time use of its students.

As for the bleachers, Ladrido said they will be repainted and marked with seat numbers. All seats at the stadium will have assigned numbers.

The tickets go on sale through Ticketworld starting June 3. Football fans with tickets need not line up hours before the game because Ticketworld’s reservation system will assure them of seats.

The grandstand’s old chairs will be dismantled starting this week. There are also international standards for the seats. AFC stadia regulations provide, “Seats for spectators must be individual, fixed (i.e.. to the floor), separated from one another, shaped, numbered, made of an unbreakable and non-flammable material and have a backrest of a minimum height of 30cm when measured from the seat.“

Ladrido said production of the new fiberglass seats, like the ones in the grandstand of the University of Makati, is 30 percent done and ahead of schedule. About 2,000 of 5,000 of the grandstand seats will have back rests. The PFF will spend about P4.8 million for the new seats.

“Total capacity will be between 16,000 to 18,000 people depending on the final measurements the PFF and PSC using AutoCAD software,” Ladrido said. – HS, Published in GMA News