This year, the Araneta Coliseum a milestone of sorts as it celebrates its golden anniversary this year.
Yup, the place called as the Big Dome has turned the Big Five-O.
Building for this iconic structure began in 1957 and was formally opened on March 16, 1960, back then it was known as the biggest indoor coliseum in the world. While that title has long been surpassed by others, it still holds the record of being the largest indoor venue in Southeast Asia that can hold as much as 25,000 spectators under its 108 meter-diameter roofed dome.
Since then it has become one of the premiere events venue in the country, whether it’s for a boxing match like Thrilla in Manila or even a venue for professional wrestling matches under WWE’s Raw and Smackdown brands. It has become a popular concert venue that the popularity of an artist is measured by the number of attendees who will go the Big Dome if he/she will hold a concert there. (hence the popular phrase “kayang papunuin ang Araneta”) At times it can be a cockfighting arena, a venue for a religious congregation or even for a company-sponsored event.
Then there are the regular events held at the Dome every year such as the Binibining Pilipinas pageant (whose organizer is an in-law of the Aranetas) and the games of the Philippine Basketball Association. It is also a popular venue for a number of collegiate sports events in the UAAP and NCAA. While it is a popular venue for the opening ceremonies as well as for the men’s basketball finals of these 2 collegiate leagues, the UAAP has also made the Big Dome the venue for sold-out events like an Ateneo-La Salle match and the annual Cheerdance Competition.
For many years, it stood in a solitary existence apart from the boom of Cubao in the late 60’s-80’s and its slow decline by the 1990’s. Then in 1999, as part of a long-term bid to reclaim Araneta Center’s status as a premier commercial hub in the metropolis, Araneta Coliseum got a major facelift of sorts. Gone was the white exterior and in comes a more colorful fusion of blue and yellow. The entrances to the coliseum were given a new, color-coded flavor. Restaurants and cafes began to open around the formerly dull Coliseum Circle. The most noticeable aspect of the renovation was that the Big Dome has been finally linked to the rest of Araneta Center, as pedestrian walkways connected it to the Farmers’ Plaza mall and the mass rail network of Line 3 at the east and the newer Gateway Mall and Line 2 at the north.
Here’s to 50 more years and beyond for the good ol’ Big Dome!
© The Urban Roamer