The controversy that accompanied Lady Gaga’s recent Manila concert almost eclipsed the excitement of watching the two-night shows in a new venue, the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
It did not help that people thought the 20,000 capacity Arena—which reportedly cost P3.5 billion to build—would not be ready for the concert, since construction was still going on a few weeks before Lady Gaga arrived.
In fact, a team from the American singer-songwriter’s management flew in advance just to personally conduct an ocular inspection of the venue.
Fortunately everything went fine on opening night, with an almost-capacity crowd beholding the Arena’s spanking new features.
Here’s what it looks like:
From the outside, the Arena’s design resembles the outline of a gigantic eye—a clever symbolism for the optical thrill that the entertainment and sports venue offers.
At the lobby are escalators that take spectators to their designated sections.
The most striking thing about the walk towards the doors is the spaciousness of the area, which reminds you of the passenger lounge at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
At the sides of the walk are concessionaires that sell American, Mexican, Italian and other fastfood fare. What’s good about them is that there are enough cocktail tables where you can wolf down a snack or meal before showtime.
Restrooms are conveniently located near the doors of each section.
What you’ll truly appreciate, once inside the arena itself, is the comfort—the seats have ample legroom even for tall folks.
A luxurious feature are the special “suites” just above the lower box section. These are said to be reserved for sponsors and corporate entities that have plunked in money for the privilege of watching the action from a glassed, hotel-like room with couches and private restroom.
The only bummers are the following:
Overzealous ushers who motion you to not stand up even when everybody else is jumping up and down with excitement over the music.
The unavailability of other kinds of drinking water for sale aside from the distilled brand—which is shunned by those who are aware of its lack of health benefits.
And the absurdity of having beer kiosks whose attendants tell you that you can’t buy a drink until after the concert is over.
Nonetheless, the coming shows lined up at the Arena are: Taylor Dayne and Edwin McCane, June 1; NKOTBSB (New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys), June 3; “Icons” (featuring 24 all-star Pinoy music artists), June 16; The Fray, June 21; and Cirque Du Soleil (starting August 9).