MANILA, Philippines – Before flying to Leyte as part of his tour in the Philippines, Pope Francis is set to meet families at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena, considered one of the biggest indoor arenas in the country.
The arena stretches over an area of 64,085 square meters and has a capacity of 15,000, or 20,000 if standing room is allowed. It is equipped with 10 elevators and 34 escalators, plus special access lanes for persons with disabilities.
The arena opened on May 21, 2012, almost two years after construction began in 2010. The structure was built at a cost of approximately P3.6 billion.
The MOA Arena opened almost 6 years after its neighboring mall was established. Both the mall and the arena were developed and are owned by the SM Group of businessman Henry Sy.
It boasts of a state-of-the-art technology and world-class facilities said to be distinct in Southeast Asia. Through the years, it has catered to some big events such as concerts and sports competitions. In fact, it first opened with the concert of international star Lady Gaga.
The indoor arena is also furnished with professional-grade and high-resolution CCTV cameras from supplier Mobotix, the same company that armed the Vatican Apostolic Library with security cameras.
The arena has an eye-shaped exterior, which the developers explained was a symbolism of the arena’s aim to bring “feast for the eye” events to its audience.
In the MOA Arena event, Pope Francis requested organizers to ensure he will have “eye contact” with Filipino families. He wanted no one to be seated behind the stage, as the pontiff wants a respectful and personal encounter with all the attendees during the meet-up.
Each Catholic diocese is reportedly allowed to send only 100 delegates to the Pope’s meeting with families.
The arena is not the only indoor stadium in the country visited by a Pope. In 1981, during the first visit to the country of Pope John Paul II, he addressed professionals, the working class, and catechists at the Araneta Coliseum (now Smart Araneta Coliseum) in Quezon City. – Rappler.com
Learn about the other spots in Pope Francis’ itinerary:
- FAST FACTS: Apostolic Nunciature in PH
- FAST FACTS: PH presidents who’ve met popes
- FAST FACTS: Manila Cathedral
- FAST FACTS: Tacloban Airport
- FAST FACTS: Archdiocese of Palo (Leyte) and the archbishop’s residence
- FAST FACTS: Pope Francis Center
- FAST FACTS: Palo Cathedral, Leyte
- FAST FACTS: University of Santo Tomas
- FAST FACTS: Rizal Park