A BIDDING war among three mall giants and a top university is expected once a plan to put the historic Rizal Memorial Sports Complex up for sale finally pushes through.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ricardo Garcia said on Monday that De La Salle and the SM Group of Companies are two of four parties that have shown interest in buying the property which for decades has stood as the home of Philippine sports.
Long-stymied plans to sell the historic venue along Vito Cruz in Manila and build a modern national sports complex in less-congested areas like Clark in Angeles City were revived by Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco shortly after ally Joseph Estrada's victory in the Manila mayoralty race.
While the PSC supervises the venue on behalf of the national government, the City of Manila owns the land where the complex stands.
“La Salle and SM (are two of them) but there are actually four,” Garcia said of the interested buyers during the PSC’s weekly press briefing on Monday.
Garcia declined to identify the two other interested parties but a separate Spin.ph source said Robinsons Land and Ayala Corporation have also looked into the possibility of buying the Rizal complex.
The source said there was a previous plan to sell to La Salle a part of the Rizal Complex that is closest to them. That includes the land where the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Tennis Center, swimming pool, and the boxing gym currently sits.
Garcia said previous talks with outgoing Manila mayor Alfredo Lim regarding the sale of the sports complex bogged down. He didn't cite any reason, but the source said that the parties could not agree on how the proceeds will be divided.
“There were some differences but later on, there were changes. But it didn’t push through,” Garcia said.
Cojuangco had announced during a recent POC general assembly that he had initial talks with mayor-elect Estrada about the sale of the Rizal sports complex.
Cojuangco is an ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who along with Estrada are the leaders in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party. Cojuangco's wife Tingting even ran for a Senate seat under the UNA banner during the recent midterm elections.
Newly elected Pampanga Rep. Yeng Guiao has also offered to lead the push for an Act of Congress that could facilitate the sale of the Rizal complex. The concurrent Rain or Shine coach has backed plans to put up a national sports complex in Clark, which sits in his district.
Garcia said that they will have to wait for Estrada to officially take office before any talks could continue.
“It’s unfair to us that we announce that we have the right to sell (the property) even before the good mayor can sit down as mayor. I guess all of this will have to wait until Mayor Estrada can sit down (and said) that there is such an intention of selling the Rizal Memorial,” said Garcia.