Written by Jamie Ortega
How does one define world-class?
According to freedictionary.com world class is defined as “ranking among the foremost in the world, of an international standard of excellence.” In that regard the Mall Of Asia Arena is definitely a world-class sports and entertainment venue. With its’state of the art facilities, a 20,000 seating capacity, superb amenities like a meet and greet room, a promoters lounge, fully equipped dugouts and luxurious corporate suites it has definitely lived up to its’ description of being a premiere sports and entertainment venue.
Since its’ grand opening last May 21, 2012 many sports and entertainment aficionados have seen and experienced for themselves the exciting and comfy feel of being inside this architectural icon owned by the SM Investment Corporation and managed by West Avenue Theatres Corporation. Learn more about this truly impressive venue in this exclusive interview with SM Mall Of Asia Arena Business Unit Head Arnel Gonzales.
Tell us some of the projects the Mall Of Asia Arena has been busy with:
Well, in terms of our calendar we have been full, there has always been a happening per month. It started with our opening, the Lady Gaga concert last May, and there was our grand launch last June which featured the icons of the Philippine concert industry, and of course the back to back concert of New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys. We also had an opening of the UAAP a month after that.
We have had the visit of the NBA stars as well, the basketball challenge which featured professional players of the NBA in a friendly exhibition match. For August, our highlight show was the two week-long Cirque Du Soleil, September was the first Ateneo-Lasalle game, and the cheer dance competition where we reached our first 19,000 seating capacity mark, a total of 19,508 patrons for that competition.
October has been the busiest month of the year, and it’s nice to see the Arena has had more than its’ fair share of shows starting with Keane, and then we had the first-ever indoor dance party for David Guetta. A few days after that we had the first finals game for UAAP wherein we reached the 20,000 mark for the arena. So for us it’s been quite busy, the Jonas Brothers is one of our key shows and for November the highlight is Jennifer Lopez and the silver anniversary concert of Regine Velasquez.
What is the market of your arena?
That is a good question, we’ve experienced families for our Cirque shows, we’ve had PBA games here, the UAAP has been at home with us, and based from the feedback they gave from the players and the organizers they like that we have a bigger lower box section. We’ve had Zac Efron, we’ve had the institutional show of Bench, so we’ve had our share from the young ones to the not so young ones with Wilson Phillips, Taylor Dayne, so I guess we've been blessed that the Arena has had various shows for all ages.
Would you say that the Mall Of Asia Arena is better than the other arenas? Why or why not?
Well, we wouldn’t say we are better-yet. We will leave it to the patrons, we will leave it to the promoters, we will leave it to the organizers. What we offer is practically the new venue, the newest venue in town. It boasts of a turnstile system, an optical turnstile system wherein we can guarantee a single entry system for our promoters, and then one of its’ unique features, the first in Southeast Asia is its’ corp seat level, and then also inside our venue is a state of the art LED ribbon system, as well as the LED pro tables.
In terms of basketball amenities we are currently using Robins flooring and Spalding basketball goals, and we are also following the FIBA regulation lines so technically we are equipped for international sporting events. Outside of that we have a fully mechanized patron section at the ground floor wherein it gives our promoters the opportunity to be creative in terms of how they can use the floor as a stage set-up.
So, if you notice that the stages are different per show, it is due to the production directive. We have a more elongated design than round, and it gives enough leverage to have more seats, if the promoters want a stage that is wide they can have that or we can adjust it to a snug set-up wherein its’ really intimate. Plus another key feature that we have is that our general admission section has actual seats.
What are some of your most attended events?
Well, yung concerts as a whole, depende. When you say seating capacities it depends on the structure, it depends on how the stage is laid out, or what are the sections that can be open based on the stage design. So iba’t iba talaga ang mga considerations, but in terms of capacity I believe we are at par with other venues but the key feature is that we have a bigger lower box section and a bigger patron section, so when it comes to the premium priced ticket, we have more.
Was the design of Mall Of Asia Arena based on any other venue?
As far as design is concerned what we mirrored is the one of Philips Arena in Atlanta Georgia. The seating design is based on that so yung distance, yung viewing angles are considered. In terms of the land footprint that we have available for the venue, it is very similar to Philips. The land footprint that we have is similar to the land footprint of Philips. Arquitectonica, a US-based firm designed the Arena, they also designed Mall Of Asia.
What can people look forward to in the coming months?
Well we are in the finalization stage of the NBA Café, the first of its’ kind in Asia. We will be having more popular in- house brands like Krispy Kreme and of course now we have Starbucks both inside and outside the venue. We will have more palatable reasons for our patrons to come dine before the show and after the show. One of our features is, of course we respect our patrons who are smokers, so we have well-appointed 15 smoking lounges almost 2 to 4 per floor. Our smoking lounges are managed by the group Cravings where our patrons can enjoy a cup of tea or cold drinks and it is all in-house.