SportsHub consortium set for big internal shake-up

SportsHub consortium set for big internal shake-up

The SportsHub Private Limited (SHPL), the consortium which runs the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub, is set to face its biggest internal shake-up yet.

It is believed that SHPL intends to terminate the venue operation contract (VOC) with Global Spectrum Pico (GSP), one of the consortium's four partners, and insource venue operations within SHPL.

GSP is largely responsible for helping to secure both sporting and non-sporting content at the Sports Hub. The other partners are Dragages Singapore and DTZ Facilities and Engineering.

The Straits Times understands that InfraRed Capital Partners, the majority equity partner, met GSP in the United States early this morning to discuss this and the Sports Hub's partnership model.

An audit conducted by KPMG, tasked to oversee the last 18 months of operations, is believed to be one of the main triggers for the meeting. The audit found that there was a lack of alignment of interest between GSP, the shareholders and government stakeholders.

The group is also concerned that GSP may have breached limits of the VOC, which led to SHPL incurring losses. However, it is believed these breaches were a result of GSP's attempts to make SHPL's rental more attractive to event organisers.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, SHPL chairman Mark Woodhams said in a press statement that a review of the Sports Hub's operations is ongoing. The project is a 25-year public-private partnership between SHPL and the Singapore Government.

He declined to comment on whether GSP would be removed, saying "we take our obligations of confidentiality with our partners seriously".

However, in the same statement, Mr Woodhams added: "Over the 25-year life of the project, it has always been envisaged that there would be continuous improvements that could be implemented to ensure best operational practice.

"This is particularly relevant as routine operations are settling down. The achievement of high operational efficiency and best service delivery is paramount to the successful long-term operations of Sports Hub."

National sports agency Sport Singapore told ST that it is "aware that SHPL is reviewing its operations" and will continue to "require that the terms and conditions of the Project Agreement are met".

The Sports Hub has come under scrutiny in recent months due to its high rental, which some believe has resulted in a threadbare calendar this year. The National Stadium had previously faced criticism over a sub-standard field.

The latest development also comes after key departures by senior management. In December, GSP managing director Mark Collins and its director of contracts and compliance Daphne Letournel were asked to step down.

The departure of Mr Collins and talk of GSP leaving the consortium have cast doubt over the future of more than 100 staff, contracted to GSP, working at the Sports Hub.

But Mr Woodhams stressed that the review was "categorically not about reducing headcount".

GSP is a partnership between local event management agency Pico and Global Spectrum. The latter is part of American sports and entertainment company Comcast Spectacor group.

In a statement sent to ST late last night, GSP stated that it was dismayed at the manner in which SHPL has, without notice to Global Spectrum or without factual basis, elevated an internal matter regarding the management of the Sports Hub to a public forum.

Comcast Spectacor's president and chief executive Dave Scott added "no wrongdoing nor contractual breach can be established". "We are confident that as this matter unfolds the focus will be upon our excellent performance as opposed to baseless allegations," he said.

This article was first published on Feb 19, 2016.
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