Around the University TownThe Starting BlokeSaving the Perdices Field from becoming a white elephant

Saving the Perdices Field from becoming a white elephant

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First of all, let’s stop calling the provincial football and athletics (track and field) facility of the Province as Perdices “Coliseum”. A coliseum is an enclosed facility, with a roof overhead, such as the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, or the Rizal Memorial Basketball Coliseum in Manila. The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila has the Rizal Baseball Field and the Rizal Track-Football Field.

The appropriate name for the Negros Oriental facility that houses the football and all-weather track oval should be referred to as the “Perdices Athletic Field” or “Perdices Field”.

In 2009, during the watch of then Gov. George Arnaiz, an all-weather rubberized track oval was constructed inside the Perdices Field, and which subsequently, incoming Gov. Emilio “Dodo” Macias II used it to support a bid for Negros Oriental to host the annual Palarong Panbansa.

We lost the right to host the games to Tacloban City, which, I understand, constructed a spanking sports complex with funding support from the Pagcor when former Leyte Cong. Matin Petilla was chairperson.

In several past columns, I wrote about similar facilities located in various parts of the country which were erected at a cost ranging from P50 to P500 million (as that constructed in Tubod, Lanao del Norte) for the annual Palarong Pambansa. And after the games, these have become virtual “white elephants”.

Wikipedia defines a white elephant as a “valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose, and whose cost (particularly of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth”. An example is the “Montreal Olympic Stadium built as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The stadium’s nickname ‘The Big Owe’ has been used in reference to the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole.”

Athletic facilities such as the Perdices Field can become a white elephant, if it is not already one, when the income derived from its usage is not adequate to meet maintenance cost.

This could also happen when there is very minimal events staged there to ensure maximum utilization by potential users, especially by children and youth engaged in structured and regularly-organized sporting activities.

What can the provincial government do to prevent the Perdices Field from becoming a white elephant? I recommend two strategies:

In 2009, Foundation University submitted a proposal to the provincial government to turn over the management of the sports complex facilities (football field, track oval, aqua center, Lamberto Macias Hall, convention hall and the hotel) to the University.

At that time, FU was determined to invest some P50 million to finish the construction of the hotel, and even considered installing an artificial all-weather turf so that the field could be used for all seasons.

We were informed that the proposal was submitted to the provincial legal officer and subsequently, to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan which both approved the offer.

However, up to this time, FU has not been informed of the final action taken by the approving authority.

To manifest FU’s management capability, when the Unigames were held in Dumaguete City in 2008, FU sent a team of landscapers to upgrade the condition of the football field. However, it appears that after this effort on the part of FU to keep the field in tip-top shape, the desirable condition has not been maintained.

This experience suggests that the current provincial government can explore the possibility of adopting the concept of “government-private sector partnership” in the operations of the Perdices Field, a practice which the provincial legal officer and the Provincial Board deemed acceptable.

Another development which the provincial government could be aware of is the current “football mania” being created by the success of the Azcals.

Football fever is sweeping the country and Negrenses, being football lovers, are a potential stakeholders of the plan of football officials to establish a football league that will ultimately grow into a professional league like the PBA.

How can the provincial government take advantage of this development? The answer is the creation of sports clubs, in the cities and municipalities, down to the barangay level.

The model for such a system is seen in FU’s “Youth @ Play” program organized by its Institute of Youth Sports for Peace.

The IYSPeace regularly organizes inter-club tournaments in basketball, volleyball, futsal, and sepak takraw held at such places as the Robinsons Mall, HyperMart, and at FU’s north campus.

These tournaments are participated in by club teams from as far as Bais City. The current champion of futsal is a sports club from Bacong, sponsored by an expat resident there. A regular participant in the “3-on-3” basketball is a club called Lucky Terminal fielded by businessman Sonny Tia.

I understand that Gov. Roel Degamo is in the process of forming a Provincial Sports Council. It might be worthwhile for this Council to consider my twin proposals: bring in the private sector as partners in the management and operation of existing sports facilities; and encourage and support the formation and participation of sports clubs all over the Province to join regularly-scheduled sporting activities.

And, as we have often manifested, FU, with its long tradition in the sporting life initiated by its former president the late Leandro Sinco, can extend any form of assistance to the local governments in Negros Oriental which will pursue a program in consonance with the UN MDG Task Force in Sports prescription for member- countries to “utilize sports for health, education, social development and peace”.

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