Good news! Just last Wednesday, Cebu City Mayor Tommy de la Rama Osmeña signed a contract with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. president Hans Sy for the mall giant’s purchase of 30 hectares of land inside the South Road Properties (SRP) for a whopping amount of P2,700,000,000. This is terrific. Including the investment of the Filinvest Land, Inc. (covering 40 hectares), this translates to billions of new revenues for the oldest city in the Philippines.
Expect the SRP, in a few years’ time, to be “The Fort Bonifacio of Cebu City,” the prime real estate location where skyscrapers sprout and 5-star hotels rise and businesses flourish. If you’ve been to the Mall of Asia along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, expect the same colossal SM Mall at our SRP. This is splendid.
But here’s what I hope our mayor doesn’t forget: Sports. Because while SM bought 300,000 sq.m. and Filinivest invested in 400,000, there’s still a lot, lot more open space left in the SRP, which totals 300 hectares. Can a portion be earmarked for sports? I hope so. And I think so.
You see, about three years ago, the mayor gathered all of Cebu City’s top sports leaders to a lunch of prime rib steak at the then newly-opened restaurant of Michel Lhuillier, who was also introduced to us as the Chairman of the Cebu City Sports Commission.
Mayor Tommy spoke about sports. He talked about the SRP. He said, if I recall his words well, that he will apportion a part of the reclaimed land for sports. Of course, he said, business comes first; which means that he’ll have to sell the prime lots before designating the area for sports. That was three years ago.
Today, thanks to SM and Filinvest, money has entered the city’s treasure chest. And so, dear Mayor, after the revelry and the confetti of the 30th Sinulog has settled, I hope you’ll revisit your grand plan for our city: A Cebu City Sports Complex.
For this is Cebu’s shortcoming. We don’t lack of international-caliber dancesport champions or ALA Gym world title-holders or the 7-footer Greg Slaughter and the 6-foot-10 Jun Mar Fajardo in basketball. What we lack is Infrastructure.
Our Cebu City Sports Center (behind the Abellana school), apart from the newly-built track oval at the Sacred School-Jesuit, houses the only rubberized track oval in Metro Cebu. The good news is, 16 years after it was built, the Abellana oval will be resurfaced—thanks to the mayor’s approval—in a few months’ time.
Our New Cebu Coliseum? Ha-ha. That should have long been named the Old Cebu Coliseum.
Tennis courts? We hardly have a single hard-court where junior winners like Jacob Lagman and Niño and Em-Em Siso can call their practice ground.
Football? Thanks to the Aboitiz family—with their recently-opened Aboitiz Sports Field beside Makro—we now have a giant-sized football pitch.
But this is not enough. We need more. Football fields. Baseball/softball diamond. An athletic field with an international-standard rubberized oval. Tennis courts. An Olympic-size swimming pool with a grandstand. Volleyball courts. Basketball rectangles. And more.
Allocating, for example, 15 hectares—or only five percent of the total land area inside SRP—will be sufficient for this grand vision of a Cebu City Sports Arena.
And why not target for our city to host the South East Asian Games—this time not just a few events (as we did in 2005), but most of the games, including the grand Opening and Closing ceremonies? Or, to set our sights even farther… the Asian Games? Imagine the Asian Games in Cebu?
Yes, it’s possible. I know… this is all long-term. But if we don’t dream and envision the possible, then it remains impossible. And, if there’s a group of Filipinos who can achieve this, it’s us, the Cebuanos. Pit Señor!