Sports Hub promises to get the pitch fixed

Sports Hub promises to get the pitch fixed
The football pitch at the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

The Singapore Sports Hub has vowed to get to the root of the problem facing the National Stadium pitch and fix it, its chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said.

The state of the new field was criticised in a strongly worded statement on Tuesday night - barely an hour after Brazil had beaten Japan 4-0 in an international friendly played on the sandy and patchy surface.

Sport Singapore CEO Lim Teck Yin said "the substandard readiness of the pitch" was "far from being satisfactory" and that it was a "significant disappointment".

Speaking to The Straits Times in response to the comments, Mr Oon - who was Mr Lim's predecessor at Sport Singapore, which was then called the Singapore Sports Council - said it was "pointless" to get into a war of words with Sport Singapore.

"We are partners, this is a long-term partnership, so we should be working together for the good of Singapore sport. We have been very honest about the state of the pitch. We want it to be better and we will fix it.

"We've gathered very, very positive feedback from all stakeholders, from consumers to partners such as the police, for Tuesday's match. We will build on this for future events."

The Japan-Brazil game was the first sell-out event at the new National Stadium. A total of 51,577 fans saw Brazil superstar Neymar create history by netting his first four-goal haul for the five-time World Cup winners.

While the pitch was visibly not up to the mark and caused the ball to bobble at times, the match ended without any major incident, despite some concern that the poor surface could result in injuries.

Still, the field was widely panned by international media as well as Singapore's online community, which made it the butt of jokes under the hashtag #yourpitchissosandy.

The Sports Hub, which cost $1.33 billion to construct, was built under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme with the Singapore Government.

While the Government did not pay anything upfront, it will bear the construction and operational costs of the Sports Hub, which also includes the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the OCBC Arena and the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

The Governmentis making annual payments over 25 years to SportsHub Pte Ltd, which manages and runs the Kallang facilities. The first payment was made in August 2010, when construction started.

Sport Singapore added on Tuesday that it is considering withholding payment if the situation does not improve and if Sports Hub fails to deliver on what was promised.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 16, 2014.
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