Local government units should seriously consider putting up football or soccer stadiums in their areas to help spur their economic growth, one of the country’s top economists said Thursday.
Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, also a professor and senior vice president at the University of Asia and the Pacific, said the stadia could act as “anchors of real estate development and commercial activity.”
“That’s true in practically all countries in Europe, and we’re surrounded by it in Asia,” said the economist, who also launched a book, “Philippine Football: Its Past, Its Future” yesterday at the Amici restaurant in Mandaluyong City.
“One of our objectives is to work with a lot of LGUs and convince them that investing in a good, modern football stadium is going to be good for their town, even in terms of commercial establishments,” added Villegas, who is advising a task force to promote the upcoming Philippine Football League set to launch in April this year.
He cited the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City and the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna province as stadia acting as hubs for the developments around them.
“Because some stadia can be built, and around it could be real estate products and commercial stalls, just like in Spain,” Villegas said. “LGU heads like mayors should also see that people in their community would appreciate their spending on the stadium.”
The Philippines currently has 23 football stadia, the biggest of which is the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan with a seating capacity of 25,000. But most arenas, like the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila often used by national football teams, are old and in dire need of renovation.
The Biñan stadium cited by Villegas can sit 2,000 and cost P320 million, but the economist said LGUs should not mind such a huge expense. “There’s evidence that football is a very profitable sport for investing,” he said.