Channel NewsAsia

Future of Marina Bay floating platform under review

Sport Singapore, which manages the venue, says bookings for events to be held at The Float will continue to be accepted until the review is completed. Built in 2007, the temporary structure was meant to last 10 years. 

SINGAPORE: This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will be held at Marina Bay’s floating platform, but the parade is not likely to return to the venue for at least the next few years. Built as a temporary structure in 2007, The Float’s future is currently under review. 

This is according to Sport Singapore, which manages the venue. The organisation says bookings for events to be held at The Float will continue to be accepted until the review is completed.

The idea of building a structure at Marina Bay for the NDP was first floated by a team led by Retired Brigadier-General Teo Jing Siong, who chaired the 2007 NDP Executive Committee. He had begun his search for a new NDP venue in 2004, for the period when the new National Stadium was being built.

The idea for a floating platform at Marina Bay came as a “flash of inspiration”, as he puts it. "We were originally looking for a space somewhere at Gardens by the Bay, to do a temporary structure for the National Day Parade,” he recalled. “As we were driving along Benjamin Sheares bridge, we looked at this piece of ground here at Marina Bay and thought to ourselves: if we can build a stage here, not only the people in the seats can see the National Day Parade but also people all around the bay."

There have been 200 events held at the float since it was built in 2007 - that works out to an average of about 30 events each year. Of these, 65 per cent have been sports-related ones, such as the F1 Singapore Grand Prix and the NTUC Run. The other 35 per cent have included events such as the River Hongbao and concerts.

In 2012, for example, the SMTOWN Live World Tour became the first commercial concert to be staged at the Float. Ms Beatrice Chia-Richmond, managing director of Running Into The Sun, the events company behind the the mega K-pop concert, said her Korean partners were looking for an iconic venue that could seat at least 25,000 people. “For them the floating platform was considered a real coup, and staging a concert there was for them a real feather in their cap,” she said.

For her, The Float’s outdoor location offers two major strengths. “When you have an outdoor venue, one of the key things people love, whether you're Korean or you're Singaporean, is fireworks. Being able to have fireworks during a concert is such an event,” she said.

But the venue’s “stunning backdrop” trumps even fireworks, she believes. "It really is a backdrop that money can't buy. You have this beautiful financial city, the water, the boats that are passing by, the iconic Marina Bay Sands - it's not a backdrop that any multimedia screen can replace." 

Using the venue was not without its challenges. "We had to really manage the stakeholders, the hotels and the people who have existing businesses around the bay, and ensure that their businesses and lifestyles were not compromised because of the traffic that was going to and fro from the Marina Bay," said Ms Chia-Richmond. If The Float were retained as an events venue, she suggests installing a facilities team there to support organisers and manage logistics.

The floating platform was intended to last for about 10 years, and Brigadier-General Teo says checks are likely needed if there are plans to extend its lifespan. "We will probably have to go inside the structure and look at how it is in terms of corrosion and rust, as well as dismantle some of the parts to take a closer look and see that everything is functioning,” he said. “If everything is well and good, then probably the platform can go on without any major work done to it." 

Members of the public we spoke to said they hoped The Float would be retained. “It certainly brings us a lot of memories,” said Ms Careen Wong, while Ms Nur Haziah suggested that the venue continue to host the NDP every few years.

For now, it is uncertain if The Float has any more parades in its future. Next year's National Day Parade will be held at City Hall. In 2016, the new National Stadium will host its first NDP. One thing is for sure: Singaporeans will get to enjoy one more NDP at this iconic Marina Bay location this Saturday. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia