A few days ago I had the opportunity to check out the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in a basketball game. It was the semi-final clash between the B-Meg Llamados and the Talk n’ Text Tropang Texters, which also happened to be the PBA’s first game ever in the MOA Arena. All the buzz I have heard about the Philippine’s new premiere indoor venue got me even more excited for the clash.
With its sleek design and high-tech gate, I was like a little boy at a toy store poking around the venue. SM did a good job building up the hype for the Arena, and I was excited to see how the experience of a basketball game here would be. It was a rematch of last conference’s final and the stakes were high. All in the newest and most modern stadium of the Philippines. Game on!
After I got over the excitement of being there. I got my wits about me and I couldn’t help but compare the MOA Arena to the historical Smart Araneta Coliseum aka the Big Dome. So here are a few notes I made as I compared the two stadiums when they hosted a basketball game.
First let’s check out the capacity of the two venues. The Smart Araneta Coliseum holds a slight edge at this category with the ability to seat around 15,000 and provide standing room for around 8,000. In the modern era, the Big Dome holds a record of holding 23,892 people for a basketball game. The MOA Arena, according to their website, has a seating capacity of around 15,000 as well with the ability to hold up to 20,000 people at full house. Looking at the way the MOA Arena interior is built though, I am not quite sure how they plan to accommodate the standing room only crowd. Perhaps we will have to wait for a PBA Final or an Ateneo-La Salle game at the MOA Arena to find out!
Ok, the seats of the MOA Arena are fancier and nicer to sit on. Not that I mind which has the better seat. Personally I prefer it when the action on the court is so intense that you don’t actually use your seat! But yes… the seats of MOA are more comfortable for those who prefer to just be seated. I stayed at the patron section, and I was pleased to see that they had cup holders for the seats. The patron section of the Big Dome has no such cup holders.
Also on a side note, there are corporate suites right in between the Lower Box and Upper Box sections. Seeing people in it just makes you want to slap them for being rich enough to use them. But then again, that’s just me.
Everyone could have a different opinion here, but this is my own personal view. In the game I watched at the MOA Arena, the venue wasn’t full. Even so, I thought the volume of the crowd was quite impressive. It could be because the MOA Arena is a more narrow venue and the sound bounces around more. I am honestly excited to catch a PBA Final and an Ateneo-La Salle game at the MOA Arena and compare the volume levels that the MOA Arena and the Big Dome could reach. The drums, the crowd, paired with the acoustics of the venue would make it even more dramatic a game.
Which reminds me! I am still curious as to where the college teams will place their drums. Given the fact that there is no area that is dedicated to the standing room audience, I wonder where they will place their drums.
The MOA Arena easily beats the Smart Araneta Coliseum in terms of the quality of landings. The landings of the MOA Arena are both modern and well designed. It is easy to get around with the number of escalators. There is also free wi-fi at the MOA Arena and there are smoking areas for those who need a cigarette when their team is down.
The MOA Arena so easily outclasses its competition in this area, that I am not even going to continue writing about this part.
For concessions at the venue, I would have to give it to Smart Araneta Coliseum. Please note this is at the venue, and not the food choices in the malls right beside the two venues. I get that the MOA Arena is new, but I was pretty disappointed with the food choices they currently had there. Though I do appreciate the amount of tables they have in front of the concessions, that is something I wish that the Big Dome had more of. Though again, this is a matter of taste so it could be different for other people.
When I say giant cubes, I mean scoreboards. Both the Big Dome and the MOA Arena are very proud of their scoreboards because of the massive screens the cubes have in the middle. These cubes usually show off the TV feed on their massive screens. Right now the MOA Arena cube has the upper hand because of its ridiculously HD quality video. The video on it is so ridiculously HD, that I found myself watching the game through the cube rather than live at times.
Ok, I cannot stress to you how important a factor I feel parking is. I’d rather tackle this rather than talk about logistics and ways to get to the venue because that would depend on where people are coming from. But parking, is what a lot of people stress about. Right now the MOA Arena has better parking. It has a 7-storey building with over 2,000 slots dedicated to parking right across it. If that is full (which probably means you’re late for the event) you could try your luck at the 1,500 slot parking building of MOA across the other side of the MOA Arena. Overall, that’s not so bad.
Smart Araneta Coliseum on the other hand is constructing its own 2,000 slot parking building. I assume this is to say “HA! we have a parking building too! To make it even better… It’s green!” Yes, it is an environmentally friendly parking lot with plants on its facade that absorbs carbon monoxide. Until that is finished though, it is a lot easier to park at the MOA Arena.
At the end of it all, the MOA Arena outclasses the Smart Araneta Coliseum physically. It still has a long way to go in terms of matching its historicity, but it will get there soon enough. This does not take away how great a venue the Big Dome still is. It can still pack a massive audience and churn out a great experience for the crowd and those tasked to perform.
In the end of the day I am happy for two things. Firstly, that we now have two venues that is worthy of both local and international talent. Secondly, that the direct competition that the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the MOA Arena provides each other could hopefully push each other to become better and better. We see that now with the renovations being done at the Big Dome, and hopefully it matches the awe that the MOA Arena has brought about.
For more information about the MOA Arena and the Smart Araneta Coliseum check out:
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