Araneta Coliseum started as a vision of J. Amado Araneta. The industrialist traveled far and wide and saw what his countrymen were missing. He wanted something extraordinary, something spectacular but within the reach of ordinary Pilipinos.
In 1952, Araneta purchased the 35-hectare Cubao property that is now the Araneta Center from Radio Communication of America (RCA). The property which includes the Araneta family home is bounded by Edsa, Aurora Boulevard, P. Tuazon and 15th Avenue. It is the centerpiece of the Araneta Center, offering a one-stop shopping, dining and entertainment experience. Some of the other establisments in the Araneta Center are Ali Mall - the first multi-level commercial mall in the country, New Frontier Cinema - the largest theater in the country with over thirty-five hundred (3,500) seats, Fiesta Carnival - the Philippines' first all-year indoor amusement center, and many more.
Construction of the Araneta Coliseum was started in 1957 and finished in late 1959. In 1960-63, the Coliseum received international recognition as the "Biggest covered coliseum in the world". Even today, it still remains as one of the largest clear span dome in the world and the largest indoor facility in Southeast Asia with a dome diameter of one hundred and eight (108) meters. It occupies a total land area of almost four (4) hectares and has twenty-three hundred (2,300) square meter floor area.
The coliseum opened on March 16, 1960, with Filipino boxer Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde wrestling the World Junior Lightweight crown from American Harold Gomes. More than 33,000 spectators watched the contest. General admission then was 80 centavos and reserve section was five pesos. Throughout the years, the Araneta Coliseum management adheres to the commitment of J. Amado Araneta to provide the Filipino people with the best entertainment at the lowest admission possible. Some of the most remembered performances were the "Thrilla in Manila" which was the Ali-Fraizer World Heavyweight Championship Fight, the Philippine Basketball Association Games, and annually, the Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant.
Recently the Araneta Coliseum embarked on a 250-million peso renovation that began in July of 1999. Such a huge capital investment is a testimony to management's commitment to bringing in world-class events and performers to a world-class facility. The renovation encompasses a complete back-of-the-house overhaul with the construction of a plush locker, dressing, production and press rooms. All the seats for the premier sections in the patron and lower box areas have been replaced.
Araneta Coliseum owes much of its success to its location in a prime property like Cubao. The Cubao area is located at the heart of the metropolis, easily accessible both from the north and from the south through both private and public transport. The Coliseum is easily accessible through Edsa which serves as the transportation of the MRT3 and LRT2 projects, whereby consumer access to the coliseum will be significantly improved.
The availability of other services within the vicinity of Araneta Coliseum is another edge it has over its counterparts. Thus, patrons are presented with choices among an extensive range of services within their reach in the Center.
The availability of safe parking spaces is also an important consideration for consumers. The presence of ample security ensures the safety of their vehicles while they take part in the activities within the Araneta Center.
The location of Araneta Coliseum also ensures the significant traffic in the area which ranges from the A and B to the D and E classes. This means that the Coliseum caters to a diverse market, an important factor for its success.
Entrance and exit points are strategically located to ensure that patrons can get in and out of the Coliseum with little or no difficulty within 10 to 15 minutes. Easy access to concessionaires's stands, add to comfort of the patrons.
THE ARANETA COLISEUM: A PIONEER SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT FACILITY
The coliseum was established with the vision of providing world-class quality entertainment for the Filipino. This vision resulted from the realization that Filipinos have developed a taste for quality entertainment, and thus, deserve only the best local and international sports and entertainment industries have to offer. More than four decades later, the coliseum has held true to this vision and standard set by J. Amado Araneta, builder of the Big Dome.
Besides pioneering the establishment of world-class facility, the Coliseum set the standard in sports and entertainment.
PBA Games Basketball
In addition, it is also a much sought after venue for the opening, semifinals and championships of the biggest annual sports events like the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation (NCAA). The Coliseum was also the site of many international basketball tournaments such as the World Basketball Championships, the 1991 Southeast Asian Games Basketball Championships and the Asian Youth Basketball Championships. The Big Dome also played host to a number of foreign sporting greats who came over to the Philippines to conduct exhibitions and sports clinics. The likes of NBA superstars like Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Grant Hill, to name a few, have visited the coliseum during their stay in the country.
The historic "Thrilla in Manila", the 15-round bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, was held at the Big Dome on October 1, 1975. This was the fight that carved out the legendary reputation of Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Beauty connoisseurs will always associate the Coliseum with the glamour and glitz of the local and international beauty pageants held at the coliseum.
Starting from 1962 until 1999, a total of 45 local beauty pageants took place in the Araneta Coliseum. These include the very popular and most prestigious Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant. Seven international pageants were also held in this venue including the very prestigious Miss Universe, Miss International Beauty Pageant. Araneta Coliseum is a world-class venue for world-class beauty.
The Coliseum gave the people opportunities to see their favorite world-class performers and celebrities in person. They sighed, laughed, cried and swooned before Julio Iglesias, Paul Anka, the Osmond Brothers, Patti Page, Everly Brothers, Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, Neil Sedaka, Jack Jones, Dave Clark Five, Harry Belafonte, Ricky Nelson, Matt Monro, Jose Feliciano, the Lettermen and Sergio Mendes. They fell in love with the seductive Ann Margaret, stomped their feet with the Blood Sweat and Tears, the Commondores, Hues Corporation, Southside Movement, Herman's Hermits, Jackson Five, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Peaches and Herb, Yabba Dabba Doo, America, Angela Bofill and Menudo. They savored Renata Tebaldi, Earl Klugh and Deodato's kind of music.
The Big Dome also featured local artist which was also partronized by the Filipino crowd. Local performers like Gary Valenciano, Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Jaya, Martin Nievera, Freddie Aguilar, Kuh Ledesma and local bands like Side A Band.... South Border. Television shows also choose the Araneta Coliseum when there is a big thing happening like birthdays and anniversaries and others.
This only proves that the Araneta Coliseum is where it all happens.
These family entertainment showcases are rare and memorable events that can only happen in Araneta Coliseum.
Jorge L. Araneta