The Athletics Stadium for the Philippines’ staging of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games will open ahead of schedule despite the challenges provided by a narrow development window.

This year’s edition of the multi-sport event will take place from November 30 to December 11, but its status had been in question as late as August 2017. At that point, the country’s President, Rodrigo Duterte, had a change of heart over his earlier decision to withdraw the state’s financial support for the Games.

The Athletics Stadium is being developed as part of the Games’ Clark Cluster, specifically within the New Clark City Sports Hub complex located in the province of Tarlac. Designed by the BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design firm, the Athletics Stadium has been built alongside the Athletes’ Village and the Aquatics Stadium.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and CEO, Vivencio Dizon, told the GMA News website that the stadium’s soft opening will come tomorrow (Saturday), ahead of schedule. The design has been inspired by Mount Pinatubo, located on the boundaries of Tarlac and fellow provinces Zambales and Pampanga.

Dizon said: “The idea is to make a sense of place where Mt. Pinatubo is deeply attached to the history of the people of Tarlac and the surrounding area. During the preliminary brainstorming of the project, we talked about creating something that reflects the story of the area.”

A ‘lahar-finished’ material will give the stadium its main visual identity. Dizon added: “The lahar-finished (material) is double-purpose. This is for the design element and for low maintenance where you don’t need to paint them and can leave them as is.”

Following the SEA Games, Dizon said the Athletics Stadium will be privatised and is set to become a multi-use facility and a national training centre for Filipino athletes. Dizon added: “We went to see stadiums in London, Sydney, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other countries to benchmark on the world-class quality of the facility.

“We got all the best technologies coming from these countries and tried to make an amalgam of a fantastic design from these ideas.”

Image: New Clark City Stadium