By JONAS TERRADO
The PBA is now allowed to bring back uts fans to its games starting Dec. 15 when action in the Governors’ Cup shifts to the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
This was announced by Commissioner Willie Marcial on Friday after the Quezon City government, led by Mayor Joy Belmonte, gave the green lights for the league to return to one of its stomping grounds with a limited capacity of about 3,000 to 4,000 fans.
Marcial added that fully vaccinated persons are allowed to enter the venue as long as they provide any proof as well as a government ID.
“Talagang konti lang kasi two seats apart ang binibigay sa amin ng LGU. Pero at least makakapanood na yung mga fans,” Marcial said following the doubleheader at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
All games until the end of the year, including a scheduled playdate on Christmas Day and the sixth leg and Grand Finals of the PBA 3×3 tournament, will be held at the Big Dome, which last hosted a game in March 2020 prior to the start of the pandemic.
Quezon City’s nod of approval came days after Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano gave her nod for the PBA to stage its games, particularly at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But that won’t happen for the time being since the SM-owned facility already has a full schedule such as the staging of the two-week MPBL Invitational which starts Saturday.
Under the arrangement, about 1,000 to 1,300 fully vaccinated fans can watch the games once the PBA goes to MOA for the first time since Jan. 2020.
The PBA currently holds the first week of the season-ending conference and the first four legs of the 3×3 at the Pasig venue minus the presence of fans.
Schedule of games are only announced on a weekly basis as part of the health and safety protocols that the league will continue to practice.
Marcial was noncommittal about the schedule of PBA’s Christmas Day event, but hinted they’ll provide a surprise for those who’ll attend.
Fans were last seen during the opening of the league’s 2020 season at the Big Dome, a week before the pandemic forced the PBA to suspend indefinitely.
The league was forced to stage a full bubble later that year and a semi-version in this year’s Philippine Cup at Ynares Pasig and later at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.