MANILA, Philippines—Politically influential Iglesia ni Cristo said Thursday it had started building one of the world’s biggest indoor arenas with a seating capacity of 50,000.
The 74,000-square-meter (796,000-square-feet) mega-structure called the Philippine Arena is part of the Christian sect’s Ciudad de Victoria, a sprawling complex being built just outside the capital Manila.
“It is going to be twice the size of the biggest indoor arena in the United States,” the church said in a story broadcast on its own television station and filmed during the project’s ground-breaking ceremony last month.
In comparison, it said, the Madison Square Garden in New York could only sit 20,000 people, while the Staples Center in Los Angeles has a capacity of 21,000.
Designed by Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous, construction is being carried out by South Korea’s Hanwha Engineering and Construction Corp. and is expected to be completed by 2014 to mark the church’s centenary.
The church said it planned to use the arena for religious gatherings.
The complex around it will include a university, a convention center, a medical facility, housing units and a chapel.
The arena itself will cost $175 million, although the bill for the entire project was not revealed.
Founded in 1914 by Filipino Felix Manalo, who left the Catholic church over differences in beliefs, the sect has grown to become one of Asia’s biggest indigenous Christian organizations.
It does not disclose the exact number of its membership, but it claims to have millions of followers,
It runs its own television and radio station, and because its members vote as a bloc, aspiring politicians scramble to get the approval of its ministers during elections.