The Big Dome
The Smart Araneta Coliseum, known as The Big Dome, is an indoor multi-purpose sports arena that is part of the Araneta City in the area of Quezon City, Philippines. It is one of the largest indoor arenas in Asia, and it is also one of the largest clear span domes in the world. The dome measures approximately 108.0 meters making it the largest dome in Asia from its opening in 1960 until 2001 when it was surpassed by the Ōita Stadium in Japan with a dome measuring 274.0 meters.
The Smart Araneta Coliseum is mostly used for sports such as basketball. It is a main venue of the Philippine Basketball Association and for the basketball games of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. The Big Dome is also used for boxing, cockfighting, local and international concerts, circuses, religious gatherings, beauty pageants and more.
Araneta Coliseum started as a vision of J. Amado Araneta. The industrialist traveled far and wide and saw what his countrymen were missing. He wanted something extraordinary, something spectacular but within the reach of ordinary Filipinos.
In 1952, Araneta purchased the 35-hectare Cubao property that is now the Araneta City from Radio Communication of America (RCA). The property which includes the Araneta family home is bounded by Edsa, Aurora Boulevard, P. Tuazon and 15th Avenue. It is the centerpiece of the Araneta City, offering a one-stop shopping, dining and entertainment experience. Some of the other establisments in the Araneta City are Ali Mall - the first multi-level commercial mall in the country, New Frontier Cinema - the largest theater in the country with over thirty-five hundred (3,500) seats, Fiesta Carnival - the Philippines' first all-year indoor amusement center, and many more.
It is also strategically positioned at the transportation hub of the busiest part of the country's metropolis which is easily accessible by almost any mode of transportation. It is the only area where the two biggest public rail transits intersect, namely the Metro Rail Transit 3 and the Light Rail Transit 2.
Construction of the Araneta Coliseum was started in 1957 and finished in late 1959. In 1960-63, the Coliseum received international recognition as the "Biggest covered coliseum in the world". Even today, it still remains as one of the largest clear span dome in the world and the largest indoor facility in Southeast Asia with a dome diameter of one hundred and eight (108) meters. It occupies a total land area of almost four (4) hectares and has twenty-three hundred (2,300) square meter floor area.
The coliseum opened on March 16, 1960, with Filipino boxer Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde wrestling the World Junior Lightweight crown from American Harold Gomes. More than 33,000 spectators watched the contest. General admission then was 80 centavos and reserve section was five pesos. Throughout the years, the Araneta Coliseum management adheres to the commitment of J. Amado Araneta to provide the Filipino people with the best entertainment at the lowest admission possible. Some of the most remembered performances were the "Thrilla in Manila" which was the Ali-Fraizer World Heavyweight Championship Fight, the Philippine Basketball Association Games, and annually, the Bb. Pilipinas Beauty Pageant.
Recently the Araneta Coliseum embarked on a 250-million peso renovation that began in July of 1999. Such a huge capital investment is a testimony to management's commitment to bringing in world-class events and performers to a world-class facility. The renovation encompasses a complete back-of-the-house overhaul with the construction of a plush locker, dressing, production and press rooms. All the seats for the premier sections in the patron and lower box areas have been replaced.
A new aluminum grid/catwalk has been installed ready to accommodate the most technically demanding event set-ups in addition to housing a four-sided center hung scoreboard, the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Many more significant alterations and additions will be made throughout the interior and exterior of the Araneta Coliseum to position it as the country's only destination for total entertainment and related activities. It is the only truly multi-purpose public assembly facility, allowing it to have 7 different configured shows in seven consecutive days.