Kuala Lumpur catching up with Singapore as beautiful SEA Games venue

Kuala Lumpur catching up with Singapore as beautiful SEA Games venue
Fresh look: A bird’s-eye view of Kuala Lumpur Sports City in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in this undated photograph provided by Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).
PHOTO: Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB)

Kuala Lumpur is fast catching up with Singapore after having been transformed into a beautiful and user-friendly venue for the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will commence next month.

Kuala Lumpur Sports City (KL Sports City), a rejuvenation of Bukit Jalil Sports Complex, has been completed and is now ready to host the games from Aug. 19 to 30, stated developer Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).

The Bukit Jalil complex will be the main venue for the biennial multi-sport event, which will be attended by thousands of athletes, officials, media and visitors from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and host Malaysia.

The KL Sports City project was a joint project between MRCB and Populous, a global architectural firm specialising in the design of sporting facilities, arenas and convention centres as well as the planning of major special events.

"Built almost 20 years ago, the rejuvenated facilities at the KL Sports City have been elevated to world-class standards," S. Nalgunalingam, general manager at MRCB and KL Sports City's project director, told the press, including The Jakarta Post, during a media visit hosted by the developer at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.

"Given the facilities are now compliant with the latest standards of [world track and field body] IAAF, [world football body] FIFA, [world hockey body] FIH and [world aquatics body] FINA, Malaysia is now ready to host to the next era of world-class sports competitions as well as showcase national and international non-sporting events," he added.

The KL Sports City project is divided into two phases.

The first was completed at a cost of 500 million ringgit (S$159 million). Meanwhile, the second phase, which will start next year, is worth 1.1 billion ringgit.

The project, which gave a fresh look to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the Axiata Arena indoor stadium, the National Aquatic Center and the National Hockey Stadium and saw large-scale plaza and infrastructure development, was finished in 15 months - significantly ahead of the initial 30 month target.

Nalgunalingam said planning played an important part as the foundation of the project.

"We had good planning, and we worked with experienced architects from Populous. They have 60 to 80 years of experience so a lot of things could be foreseen," he said, adding that pairing experienced architects with experienced builders, like MRCB, was the secret to fast-paced work.

The project involved three months of planning.

A 23-hour working day, non-stop for 15 months, was also key to finishing the project ahead of schedule, said Nalgunalingam.

"We also have a very close relationship with the government. The [Malaysian] youth and sports minister has been actively involved in the project […].

"There's also been no delays from any stakeholders because they all understand how important the SEA Games are for Malaysia," he added.

As MRCB, the master developer of Kuala Lumpur Sentral central business district, has extensive experience constructing buildings with transport-oriented development concepts, the KL Sports City is also easy to access and is connected with the Bukit Jalil light rail train (LRT) station.

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