GE on board with Sports Hub

GE on board with Sports Hub
CEO of insurance group Great Eastern Khoo Kah Siang shaking hands with Sports Hub CEO Philippe Collin Delavaud after the signing ceremony on April 30, 2014.

When the new National Stadium opens its doors, spectators walking through the north-eastern entrance will be welcomed by the red lion of Great Eastern (GE).

The life insurance company was announced as the first Founding Partner - and official insurance partner - of the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub yesterday.

The deal will see the company's insignia plastered in specific zones inside the stadium, and will be a big presence on the facility's digital platforms.

Like many Singaporeans, GE would have been pleased to hear Singapore Sports Hub Pte Ltd chief executive officer Philippe Delavaud give assurances that the 35-hectare venue, and its crown jewel the 55,000-capacity National Stadium will open on time.

The New Paper reported yesterday that issues with the stadium's pitch and retractable roof could mean the facility will not be ready in time for the first sports event scheduled there - the inaugural World Club 10s rugby competition on June 21 and 22.

But the Frenchman said the retractable roof and the pitch are on track.

"The grass is seeded and growing, we have to stitch the grass with artificial grass, which will be done in the coming week. We have to complete the wide coverage of the movable roof, and this will be completed by the end of May," he said.

"We do not need any incentive. We want to be ready, we want to open, and we are doing everything which is feasible to keep the momentum and the pace."

While the length and financial details of the deal with GE were not disclosed, the life insurance company are looking beyond just having their brand plastered on the walls and in a lounge at the stadium.

"This sponsorship is aligned (with our other sports deals with running and football) and it's not about paying for our name to be shown," said GE chief executive Khoo Kah Siang.

"We are looking to work closely with our partners, achieve synergy and reach out to the public at large of the benefits of living healthy through sports."

The company also sponsors the Great Eastern Women's Run and Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

FRINGE ACTIVITIES

The GE Run will see fringe activities at the Sports Hub this year, and possibly be hosted at the facility in 2015. It will also be involved in the Sports Hub's Sport Singapore Community Open House pencilled in for next month.

GE are co-title sponsors of the Republic's only professional sports league - the S.League - and insists that the Sports Hub sponsorship will not affect their commitment to local football.

They will host a football clinic for underprivileged children before the kick-off of the Singapore-Malaysia football match on Aug 8 at the National Stadium.

"That (the clinic) is clear reflection of leverage (of both their sponsorship properties), and in the future we hope to find some collaborations with the S.League," said Colin Chan, GE's chief marketing officer.

"We hope that if the media can rally 50,000 people to come and watch, we could have an S.League game at the National Stadium!" The GE announcement comes in the wake of the sponsorship deal struck by parent company OCBC Bank and the Sports Hub.

The 15-year deal worth $50 million made OCBC the Sports Hub's Premier Founding Partner, and secured the local bank naming rights to some facilities in the hub, including the Aquatic Centre.

While there will only be one Premier Founding Partner in the Sports Hub's tiered sponsorship scheme, the consortium is poised to announce at least three other Founding Partners in the coming weeks, and they will include local as well as international companies.

It's a complex project, every thing is a prototype, everyday we have difficulties, and every night we find solutions. - Sports Hub CEO Philippe Delavaud, on the difficulties surrounding construction of the facility

shamiro@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 1 in The New Paper.

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