A decade after the construction of the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center (MLSC), the Lorenzo family has once again sponsored the construction of another world-class sports facility, soon to be unveiled at the Ateneo campus grounds.
Partnering with the University Athletics Office (UAO), the blue-blooded family is playing a major role in the transformation of what was once called the Erenchun field into the new Moro Lorenzo field.
Being the second Ateneo sports facility named after Luis Francisco “Moro” Lorenzo, one of the Ateneo’s most successful basketball players during the ‘40s, the multi-million peso project will give the university the pride and honor of being home to a football field and track oval that both meet international and Olympic standards.
According to the standards set by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the minimum acceptable size for a football field is 90- by 45-meters, while the maximum size is set at 120- by 90-meters. Based on these standards, the Moro Lorenzo field features a 110- by 70-meter pitch, therefore making it a playing field of world-class quality.
“It’s the first field of its kind in the Ateneo, hence it should really be of high quality,” said Emmanuel Fernandez, the UAO’s Assistant Director for Operations.
In addition, the pitch will be an all-weather field composed of first generation Bermuda grass, the highest quality of turf that does not discolor or easily deteriorate. A grass nursery built nearby will be used to plant and harvest more Bermuda grass to replace dead spots on the pitch over time. Drainage and sprinkler systems designed to maintain the conditions of the field will also be constructed during the main stage of excavation.
The Moro Lorenzo field will also boast a royal blue track oval around the pitch. At 400-meters long and complete with eight lanes, the oval meets the standards set by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), which stipulate that an Olympic-standard race track be at least 400-meters long, having at least four lanes. The actual oval will be composed of synthetic flooring, specifically Herculean Spike Resistant Sprint, a variant accepted by the IAAF.
The UAO has also been working with United States-based Trans-Lux Corporation for an outdoor and weatherproof 5- by 4-meter electronic scoreboard with LED lights for track meets and football games. “This will be the first scoreboard of its kind in the Philippines,” said Fernandez.
Phase one finally begins
The plan for the renovation of Erenchun field was in the works for roughly two years, but the UAO had yet to procure all the necessary resources for such a massive endeavor. Fortunately, the Lorenzo family saved the project from development limbo when they came aboard as the major sponsor, thus earning naming rights to the field.
Last April, the extreme makeover was all set and ready to go on the green. However, mobilization stalled once again due to a certain process required for the acquisition of necessary documents and permits. With all things set, and the approval of all decision-making sectors, the first phase of construction finally began on August 22.
The objective of the initial stages of renovation is to prepare the soil for the field’s foundation. This includes earthwork and removing silt and clay from the ground, followed by excavation for the drainage system. To make room for the oval track, the asphalt road to the JGSOM Student Enterprise Center and the CTC building coming from Gates 3 and 2.5 will be moved further north and a small section of the foliage beside the JGSOM faculty parking lot will be cleared. As an additional precaution, the main field has already been fenced off.
Road realignment will follow soon after, and the field will be converted into its all-weather design with the planting of the Bermuda grass and the subsequent grow-in period. The project is estimated to finish within six months, either by late January or early February—just in time for the UAAP football finals.
When the field is completed, a committee composed of a Lorenzo family representative and the UAO will hold managerial power. “We owe it to them to ensure [that] the field is well kept,” said Fernandez.
A new home
With the reconstruction ongoing, Ateneo’s largest field will be temporarily off limits. To compensate for the loss of venue, the UAO has decided to hold majority of the UAAP Season 74 football tournament games on the Ocampo and high school fields. The Blue and Lady Booters will have to train on the said fields whilst their new home turf is being overhauled.
“One reason for fencing off the field is for secure entry and exit points so that the turf is not contaminated with outside particles,” explained Fernandez.
Moreover, the UAO also plans to purchase all the necessary equipment for the oval in the coming years. Envisioned to be a fully functioning track oval for the Blue and Lady Tracksters, who train either off campus or at the MLSC oval, the Moro Lorenzo field is also a potential venue for the UAAP Track and Field tournament in years to come.
Designed by Ike Madamba, the architect who revamped the Rizal Memorial pitch for the Azkals game against Sri Lanka, the Moro Lorenzo field will rival the Rizal Memorial Stadium and the University of Makati Track and Field oval in terms of grandeur.