The writing on the wall can be easily validated with a quick look on the stands.
Crowd attendance – or lack thereof – during live games has been one of the perennial problems of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Especially during weekday games, only a handful of fans flock the PBA’s cavernous playing venues: the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
Blame it on the horrid Metro Manila traffic and the trouble of commuting with the current public transport system. It would take hours to travel along EDSA from Makati to Cubao just to catch a live PBA double-header at the Big Dome, which normally starts at 4:30 PM.
With the railway system yet to reach the MOA Arena, fans have no choice but to ply the ardous EDSA route for a live PBA game.
The commute back home is a different beast, as the horrendous Metro Manila traffic extends up until midnight.
Or simply put, blame it on today’s economic conditions that beset the most faithful PBA fans: prioritizing everyday expenses rather than shelling out at least PHP 570 for a patron seat. The ticket price for a decent patron seat costs more than the minimum daily wage of PHP 512 in the National Capital Region.
However, all is not lost for the PBA. Crowd presence may be low, but the PBA’s drawing power is still visible via social media during games. Online discussions dominate various social media platforms during and after games – a validation that the league is still alive in the public’s consciousness.
Once in a while, the PBA could consider relocating the games from the Araneta Coliseum and the MOA Arena – with seating capacities ranging from 16,000 to 20,000 – to smaller venues within the metropolis. Ticket prices can also be adjusted substantially. Such moves could bring the games closer to the local communities, and sparing the league with the pressure of filling up at least a third of the aforementioned prime playing venues. They could engage these communities, even those from neighbouring cities, by delivering the PBA within arm’s reach from the fans who have given up on the hassle of catching games live in bigger stadiums.
The PBA has implemented such measures, albeit at the outskirts of Metro Manila. Wednesday and Friday games have been held at the Ynares Center in Antipolo – with a seating capacity for 7,000 spectators – and at the 6,500-seater Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Spread throughout seven cities in Metro Manila, FOX Sports Philippines lists down eight alternate playing venues where PBA games can be held occasionally:
1. Caloocan Sports Complex
Inaugurated in December 2017, the Caloocan Sports Complex has played host to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) and the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL). Currently the home floor of the city’s MPBL team Supremos, the sports facility in Bagumbong, Caloocan can accommodate 3,000 fans. The venue is in close proximity from fans coming in from the Novaliches and Fairview area.
2. Olivarez College Gymnasium, Parañaque
The PBA can explore reconnecting with the younger generation by holding games inside colleges and universities. Located inside the Olivarez College campus along Sucat Road in Parañaque, the Olivarez College Gymnasium has also become a regular venue for the MPBL and other collegiate leagues. The gymnasium served as the home court of the Parañaque Patriots in the inaugural MPBL season. It can also accommodate 3,000 spectators.
3. Fil-Oil Flying V Centre, San Juan
A popular sporting venue in the metro is the Fil-Oil Flying V Centre, which along Boni Serrano Avenue in San Juan. The arena has been a go-to venue for collegiate basketball and volleyball games with a seating capacity of 5,000. The PBA is no stranger to this San Juan City venue, as the league held a Philippine Cup game here last December.
4. Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig
The PBA Developmental League regularly holds its games at this Pasig venue along Shaw Boulevard. The Ynares Sports Arena is also a popular venue for basketball tournaments for companies from the Ortigas area. Opened in 2008, the arena seats 3,000 people.
5. Pasig City Sports Center
The Pasig City Sports Center used to be the stomping ground of the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL). Located beside the Pasig City Hall, the playing venue along Caruncho Avenue can seat 3,000 fans. The Pasig City Sports Center is a regular venue for the UNTV Cup and occasionally, the PBA D-League.
6. Marikina Sports Center
The refurbished Marikina Sports Center is a hotspot for competitive commercial leagues that feature former collegiate and professional players. The 7,000-seater stadium is part of the Marikina Sports Complex, a one-stop sporting venue for various sports disciplines.
7. Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo De Manila
Another institution that has a decent playing venue is the Ateneo De Manila University. Inside its campus is the Blue Eagle Gym, a 7,500-seater stadium that has played host to a number of UAAP and NCAA games in the past.
8. Quadricentennial Pavilion, University of Santo Tomas
The multi-purpose gymnasium was constructed in celebration of the pontifical university’s 400th year founding anniversary. The four-storey facility serves as the training hub for the various sports teams of UST. Inaugurated in 2011, the Quadricentennial Pavilion can accommodate up to 6,500 spectators.