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Timeline: Events leading up to the Government’s takeover of Singapore Sports Hub

Timeline: Events leading up to the Government’s takeover of Singapore Sports Hub

A view outside Singapore's new National Stadium on Jun 21, 2014, as it hosts its first event - a World Club 10s rugby tournament. (File photo: CNA/Kurt Ganapathy)

SINGAPORE: Government agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) will take over the ownership and management of the Singapore Sports Hub from Dec 9, with authorities aiming to "unlock greater potential” from the venue and make it more accessible to the broader community.

The move spells the end of the public-private partnership with the consortium Sports Hub Pte Ltd (SHPL), which has been running the venue since it opened in 2014.

Over the years, the S$1.33 billion Sports Hub has hosted numerous marquee events, but it has also seen its share of hiccups.

CNA retraces the venue’s history and the events that unfolded in the lead-up to the Government’s move to take over the project.

2010: A groundbreaking ceremony for Sports Hub was held in September.

The ceremony had been delayed by the sharp rise in construction costs worldwide in early 2008, along with the onset of the global financial crisis in the later part of that year.

June 2014: After more than three-and-a-half years, construction of the hub was completed and operations began in mid-June.

The venue hosted a series of events, including the TYR 2nd Southeast Asian Swimming Championships and the inaugural Rugby World Club 10s tournament.

October 2014: The Sports Hub hosted a football friendly between Brazil and Japan, but drew flak for the poor condition of its pitch, which was described as sandy and patchy.

SportSG CEO Lim Teck Yin criticised "the sub-standard readiness of the pitch", adding that it was a "significant disappointment".

December 2014: Fans who attended a concert by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou took to social media to complain about a leak in the stadium's retractable roof.

July 2015: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the Sports Hub.

August 2016: The National Day Parade was held at the National Stadium in the Sports Hub for the first time, although the move was not without controversy.

The bill came up to S$39.4 million, double the cost of previous Aug 9 shows that were held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

But the 55,000-seater venue allowed about 275,000 Singaporeans to watch the show and its previews - more than twice the number of spectators in previous years, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said then.

September 2016: Jay Chou concert-goers were up in arms again, saying that the concert had been marred by sound issues. An online petition noted that the problems were a repeat of the same issues members of the audience had already complained about nearly two years ago.

May 2017: Then-CEO of Sports Hub Manu Sawhney resigned, following investigations into a complaint against him over the treatment of employees as well as commercial decisions. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

January 2019: His successor, former national swimmer Oon Jin Teik, resigned a year after his appointment as CEO. Sports Hub’s chief operating officer Wong Lup Wai and chief financial officer Sandy Tay had also resigned in the months prior, according to TODAY.

August 2019: Then-Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in Parliament that there was “room for improvement to make the Sports Hub the vibrant, integrated sports and lifestyle destination we envisioned”.

She said SportSG had been in regular communication with SHPL’s senior management, to monitor their performance and ensure that Singapore’s objectives of the project were met.

March 2020: It was revealed that the Sports Hub had been slapped with a fine for not having met certain standards.

Then-Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng said that SHPL had to meet a minimum number of sporting event days at the National Stadium and Singapore Indoor Stadium each year.

"Where they have not met the standards, they have been held accountable and financial penalties have been imposed," he said.

August 2020: New CEO Lionel Yeo, who was appointed in February that year, said the goal of the Sports Hub is to remain relevant, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He added, however, that the year has been a commercially "challenging" as event attendances declined.

June 2022: SportSG announced that it is taking over the ownership and management of the Sports Hub from the consortium.

SportSG's Mr Lim said there are plans to make the venue a “community icon” that is more accessible to the broader community for sports, lifestyle and social uses.

Beyond driving a “much stronger affinity” for the venue through greater community use, there will also be greater sports programming for children, youth, families and seniors, as well as "pathway programmes that lead to pipeline and elite programs for Team Singapore”, he said.

In addition, the Sports Hub will be made the home of school sports, with the National School Games’ return to the hub being “a major feature” of future plans.

Source: CNA/cl(gs)


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