Narvasa 'disappointed' with low PBA All-Star fan turnout
MANILA, Philippines — It was difficult not to notice the bare blue seats of the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday, August 5, on day one of the 2016 PBA All-Star Weekend.
The crowd was immensely sparse, the general admission section practically empty, and from the upper box down to patron areas there were scattered warm bodies few and far in between.
League commissioner Chito Narvasa admitted the low turnout was not what he expected.
"Well of course, we're quite disappointed right now but it didn't matter to the players," he said after the day's Blitz Game.
"They came out, they did their best. That's for the fans, they just want to show them that they appreciate the fans and I'm hoping the fans appreciate them. But that's the way it is."
The skills challenge — with the obstacle, 3-point shootout, and dunk contest as highlights — as well as the Blitz Game between the Greats and Stalwarts were held on the first day.
Even the presence of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who played in the Blitz Game, was not enough to draw attendance — though the crowd perked up each time he held the ball.
At Puerto Princesa last year, the crowds flocked to see the PBA All-Stars and the event was deemed a "super success" by then-commissioner Chito Salud.
Narvasa, who took over this season, said bringing the All-Star back to the provinces is an adjustment the league will look into.
"Hold it in the provinces. I think they will appreciate it there, a lot less distraction," he said. "Because this one is for the fans, but we need to think how to engage them more. I thinks it's in the part of the PBA now.
"I think there's something we can learn from this also," he added.
In 2014 the All-Star Weekend still drew a crowd when it was held at the Mall of Asia Arena and the centerpiece was a game between PBA All-Stars and the Gilas Pilipinas team preparing for the FIBA World Cup.
Narvasa hopes Sunday's festivities would draw a crowd as it features the main event, the All-Star Game.
"That one marami (will have plenty of people), I hope. The one promoting is Araneta, so we want to be able to generate a lot more interest. It's a case study were going to look (at) after this," he explained, adding that changing the All-Star format is an option.
"It could be. That's why we're listening also, baka nga nagsawa na rin (people might be used to it already). It's something to learn from after every experience." — Rappler.com