Watching Football at the RMS, January 19, 2013

I haven’t watched a Football game live in a long while, but I decided to watch one live recently, a game in the Smart-PFF National Club Championships, for a number of reasons. One was that I haven’t seen any Azkals or local Football game for about 3 weeks already. Second was that AKTV was not televising these games, and these were very good, highly-touted quality games. Third was that, seeing how the UFL games were only averaging a couple of hundred people per game in terms of live attendance, I wanted to do my part as a Football fan in terms of attending the games. Below are some of my experiences and observations.

‘Free Admission and Game Attendance’
Admission is FREE, meaning you just walk right in past the Security Guards. This is good, as it keeps my costs in terms of watching the games low. HOWEVER, the free admission also pulls in unsavory characters, like Street Children. I don’t mind having these children watch the games as long as they behave, and are really interested in the games, but they are not. They were noisy and horsing around most of the time, even throwing slippers at each other.

There was a Security Guard that kept admonishing them, but he couldn’t watch them all game long. I am not sure if they were really Street Children, they were dressed well enough, but it was also clear they did not have any adult with them. What’s worst is that they could be workers for crime syndicates, sent to steal stuff from the audience. For example, I noticed that they were horsing around too much behind me, and then I suddenly remembered to watch over my celphones, wallet and stuff. I showed to them that I was alert, and after than they seemed to have lost interest and moved on elsewhere.

Which is why I think the local Football leagues should start charging a small, reasonable entrance fee. For one, it will keep nuisance kids like the ones described above out. Second, it will help generate some income for the leagues. A “reasonable fee” for me would be about P50. Anything more than that is too expensive already, at least for now. Some fans might balk at the P50 fee, but then I ask, what kind of fan would complain about such a low amount to watch two full Football games? Would you like to have those kinds of fans?

The covered court was about half-full, so I estimate there were 2-3k in attendance. If they charged P50 to those people, they could’ve gotten P100k-150k for that day only, a good amount to support the league.

‘Game Crowd’
I couldn’t say if there were more women than men in the crowd, it certainly did not seem that way to those seated around me. There were many men also enjoying the games, talking about it among themselves. It was a typical crowd for me, not necessarily where one demography was outweighing the others.

There were a number of head-turning women around, most of them wearing short-shorts. They weren’t necessarily the skanky types either, in fact, they looked more like the upper-middle class types. I don’t know if they were Girlfriends, Wives, etc., of the players, perhaps some were hoping to hookup or catch some of the players, but they definitely were one of the main attractions of the game.

‘Facilities’
The RMS is surrounded by roads on three of its sides, and all of them are major (at least) 4-lane arteries. Public transportation is available, and so is parking for private cars either around the venue, or on the Harrison Plaza Mall nearby, so getting there is not a major problem, although the area could be clogged with traffic sometimes.

There are no public timers available in the venue, so to keep track of the game time, you will need to note down what time the half started, and then just use your own watch to keep track of the time. Alternatively, you can use your celphone’s Stop Watch to keep track of the remaining time.

The best seats in the covered area of the RMS are the yellow seats. They maybe farther from the Pitch, but they offer a better view of the whole pitch since they are higher up. The only problem is that the seats don’t have back rests, and it can be a bit uncomfortable watching 2 games or 180 minutes of Football on those seats. The blue seats located lower in the stand have backrests, but they are too low to have a good view of the field. I prefer the perspective of the Yellow seats.

Even though the RMS was renovated in 2011, the facilities are still far from posh. The paints on the railings have worn out already after only 2 years. Stainless steel railings would’ve been ideal, they would’ve looked neat and new, but since they are more expensive as scrap, they could be targeted dismantling for selling by unscrupulous individuals.

The floor between the rows on the Yellow seats section are uneven, not too comfortable putting your foot on them for long periods of time. Roving vendors are available selling food, but the food they offer are only “Chichiriyas”, Candies, Gums, Hotdogs and Juice Drinks in Tetra packs. Good thing that the Harrison Plaza Mall is right next door where better food is available. Also good that the crowd was not messy and throwing garbage around, there are large Garbage Bins available and scattered around the venue.

Lastly, as you step outside the RMS and cross the street to the Harrison Plaza Mall, there is a concrete island that separate the traffic from either way. It SMELLS of PISS. Apparently, the Pedicab / Bus / Taxi Drivers use it as Urinal, and thus it smells like one and is a disgrace. They should replace it with a simpler barrier, or even just remove it altogether. They need to do something about it, ANYTHING will do at this point.

And let’s not talk about the toilet. They are not really THAT dirty, but the toilet tanks are all damaged and inoperable, and they do smell mainly (thankfully) of urine. If you can hold it in, you are better off using the toilets at the Harrison Plaza Mall whenever you can.

‘Parting Shot’
Despite some negative observations, the overall experience was nice. The weather was cool even at 4:00 pm. From January to March of every year is the BEST time to watch Football games live because of the cool weather. After that, it will be more uncomfortable watching the games because of the heat. The wide, open area was a literally a breath of fresh air. Also great to see all the action up close, like the pushing and shoving, nice tackles, etc. It just enhances the overall appreciation of the game.

The RMS is the prime venue for international and local Football games, but as we can see it is still far from ideal, ESPECIALLY FOR THE FANS. Being a former and somewhat current Basketball fans, I have been around a lot of venues, like the Cuneta Astrodome, San Juan Arena, Smart-Araneta Coliseum, etc. and those venues are, overall, much better than the RMS. Of course they are of a different sport, but that is what Football is competing against here in the Philippines. We will need to have much better venues if we hope to pull more fans in to watch the games live.

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