SEA Games: Restoring the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex to its former glory

Restored to its old, majestic glory, art deco aesthetics prevailed in the newly-restored Rizal Memorial Sports Complex down to lighting fixtures and urinal dividers– the first time in 66 years the sports facility got its ever major facelift.

Inside the entrance of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (Phisgoc release)

Inside the entrance of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (Phisgoc release)

Although the opening ceremony will be on Nov. 30, action in men’s football began Monday.

In a post by the 2019 SEA Games official Facebook page, art deco moldings, with the newly-installed porthole windows and marble were seen at the lobby of the Rizal Memorial stadium.

According to architect Gerard Lico, amenities like roof drainage, new fire protection system and centralized air-conditioning were also retrofitted in the newly-rehabilitated sports complex to meet the FIBA standards.


The architect also posted photos showing the newly-installed ducts that were left exposed to sport an industrial look in the 85-year-old arena. Brand new gymnastics equipment, retractable seats, flooring, goals and scoreboard were also put in place.

“For the first time, the coliseum will be fully air-conditioned, with the latest Japanese technology that will ensure thermal comfort for the players and spectators and energy efficiency for the grid. The shower and locker rooms are being completely re-done, fully-equipped with bidets, water heaters, and spanking-new lockers,” Lico told the Manila Bulletin.

Lico also said they finished the court for the gymnastics at the coliseum on time.

“The coliseum is primarily for basketball but we redesigned it to accommodate other indoor sports and even concerts and live performances,” he added.


The architect also said they revamp the exterior of the stadium with energy-efficient LED lighting to showcase the coliseum’s façade during night.

Lico said the renovated shower stalls with the new Art Deco doors of the athlete’s locker room have “TS” initials on the original Art Deco window grills which stand for “Tennis Stadium”, referring to the original name of the facility, the Rizal Memorial Tennis stadium.

Aside from the renovation, Lico also revealed that they already finished the exhibit inside which will showcase the history of the newly-restored Rizal Memorial Sports complex.

“We haven’t slept to deliver this exhibit which is not actually part of my contract and budget, but I am happy to do it and spend it for it as my gift to the Filipino people,” he said.


“We need people to appreciate their history and identity through the building. You need to understand the history and value of the coliseum and the complex before you can love it. We have to take care of our old buildings because it is our source of pride as a nation,” he added.

The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex was one of the last surviving art deco architectures designed by notable architect Juan Arellano.

Lico patterned the renovation after the streamline art deco style of Arellano when it was built in 1934 to host the Fast Eastern Championship Games.


It got the much-needed facelift after the Philippine Sports Commission was able to secure the funding from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

It was ruined by war in 1945 and was first rehabilitated in 1953 for the hosting of the 2nd Asian Games.

It underwent minimal rehabilitations in the years 1981, 1991, and 2006 when the country hosted Southeast Asian Games.


The Rizal Coliseum is home for basketball events such as Micaa, UAAP and NCAA. In 1978, it also hosted World Basketball Championship now called the Fiba Basketball World Cup.

 The 9.6-hectare stadium is also one of the last surviving pre-war structures in the city and saw the beginning of the careers of Olympic medalists and notable athletes like Caloy Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski, Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros, among many other greats.


Date: November 27, 2019 | By: Erma Edera | Newspaper: Manila Bulletin | Source: