Davao City's largest gymnasium...soon
Davao City with its land area, population, economy and strategic importance in the region should have a large civic center, a coliseum or indoor sports complex that could accommodate at least 10,000 persons.
Unfortunately we don't have large indoor sports centers, our largest one- the Rizal Memorial Colleges Gym can seat about 4,000 people. while the CYO (Holy Cross of Davao College) gymnasium can accommodate 3,000 persons. The City has its newly renovated Almendras gym or the Davao City Recreation Center which is smaller than the CYO.
Other small cities in Region-XI like Digos and Panabo now boasts of spanking new gymnasiums bigger and better than our existing sports facilities. In the year 2000 the City Government under then City Mayor Ben De Guzman took out a loan from Land Bank and started the construction of a P330-million sports complex named as the Artica Dome that supposed to seat around 15,000 people. However politics led to the abandonment of the expensive project. Today Artica Dome is nothing but a white elephant.
A couple of years ago, Perfecto Alibin Ph.D. president of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) thought of building a large gymnasium for the school, the idea came into fruit when it was backed by then House Speaker Prospero Nograles (also D.C.'s 1st District Representative) who provided the seed fund to start the construction of the said project.
USEP Gymnasium in the lot where the Davao Trade School used to stand
USEP Gymnasium was planned to accommodate 7,000- 8,000 people. It would be airconditioned unlike RMC and CYO which are steaming ovens. It can now host Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games whose Davao sorties are being played in the modern gyms of Digos and Panabo.
The funding for the gymnasium is about P120-million, with P10-million additional funding for 2011 as pledged by Congressman Karlo Nograles, Speaker Prospero's son who won the 2010 elections. According to Dr. Alibin the P10-million will be used to put the finishing touches to the gymnasium as well as adding the PBA-standard basketball court.
The construction of the gym was done in three phases, Phase 1 involved the superstructure and substructure, Phase 2 involved the walls, flooring and bleachers, comfort rooms and the commercial spaces while Phase 3 included the airconditioning, lighting and electrical systems. While Phase 4 would include the finishing works including the provision of a modern basketball court.
Phases 1 and 3 are already complete Alibin said. The gymnasium can already be used minus the basketball court, which he says will be included in the additional budget from Congressman Nograles.The construction took so long because of budgetary problems. but despite the setbacks the project plodded on.
If it will be completed, it will become the largest indoor multi-purpose gymnasium/sports complex not just in in Davao City but also in the whole region. He says a management group will be created to run the facility which will bring in additional revenues to the university.
I hope the gym will be completed the soonest possible time. USEP Gymnasium could provide a decent venue for sports events like PBA games, concerts and conventions. According to then Philippine Sports Commissioner Butch Ramirez Davao City should have at least a 15,000-seater coliseum but the priorities of our city government is focused more on essentials like basic services, peace and order, traffic situation and drainage. Why invest in such a large structure when there are other more important issues to address? that would perhaps explain the development orientation of our present city government that despite being one of the country's highly-urbanized cities, we do not have sports complexes, 10,000 seater-coliseums and convention centers.
The benchmark of all major urban centers is having those modern civic multipurpose infrastructures in place, without one Davao City could make do of what USEP Gymnasium has to offer.
(photos courtesy of the USEP President's office)