Construction workers disassemble parts of the Engineering sports complex near the España gate to pave way for the construction of a new four-story sports complex in time for UST’s quadricentennial anniversary in 2011. Inset is the miniature model of the complex that will house a basketball court, an indoor track, and pool, among others. Photo by GIANNINA NICOLAI P. MELICOR

FINALLY, a sports complex fit for champs.

Construction has begun for the nearly P800-million UST Sports Complex after the Vatican gave its “blessing” to the project, which the University aims to complete in time for its quadricentennial celebration.

University officials sought the Holy See’s approval early this year apparently to avoid a repeat of the 2007 cancellation of the P3-billion project to redevelop the UST Hospital, which the Dominican hierarchy had found to be in violation of ecclesiastical law. UST is a Pontifical university, directly under the supervision of the Pope.

But in a letter dated April 20, Undersecretary Fr. Sebastiano Paciolla, O.P. of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life under the Holy See said there was actually no need for Vatican clearance since the amount required to build the four-story gym — P788,676,000 — was below the ceiling set by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“The cost of [investment for the gym] is met from the internal resources of the University, and thus does not adversely affect its patrimonial situation,” Paciolla stated. “Neither does the project involve any mortgage, lien, loan, renting or leasing in the sense of ‘alienation.’”

The letter was in response to the request for approval sent to the Vatican by Fr. Roberto Ombres, O.P., procurator of the Order of Preachers, on behalf of the Dominican Master General Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, O.P. last March.

Michael Malicsi, executive assistant to the Rector, said the letter was some sort of a “clearance” from the Holy See, noting the scrapping of the project to build a 19-story hospital tower nearly two years ago.

Trouble in 'Lovers' Paradise'

The Dominican Master General had found the P3-billion loan from a syndicate of banks too big and declared the hospital’s separation from the University illegal, citing Canon Law. This led to a sudden leadership shake-up that saw the resignations of then rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., and two others.

The proposed sports complex, designed by architects Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Rosas, will cover the entire land area occupied by the Engineering sports complex and an adjacent football field.

The gym will be converted into an alumni center (see related story).

The 65.98 x 76-square-meter structure will house training areas for gymnastics, aerobics, taekwondo, judo, table tennis, fencing, and badminton at the ground floor. It will also include a ticket counter, a museum, a guidance and counselling office, a dance hall for the Salinggawi Dance Troupe, a fitness room, a canteen concessionaire, a bank, and the offices of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

The main basketball court, surrounded by bleachers rising up to the fourth floor of the building, will be at the center of the second floor, while an indoor track will be built on the third floor. The rooms in the sports complex will also be equipped with sound-proof technology to minimize noise.



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