Sports Minister Wong talks a good game

Sports Minister Wong talks a good game
Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, with the soon-to-be-completed Singapore Sports Hub in the background.

There was a magnificent black and white picture of the "Grand Old Lady" hanging on one wall as we talked in one of the show suites at the Experience Centre, which guards the front of the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Sports Minister Lawrence Wong (above, right) brought up the old National Stadium at Kallang when he met The New Paper last week. It came to life in 1973 and served the country well for 34 years.

It regularly drew crowds of 50,000 to 60,000 for Malaysia Cup games, and showed itself off to the region at one SEAP Games (1973) and two SEA Games (1983, 1993).

Wong believes the Sports Hub, and the new National Stadium, can be a catalyst as Singapore strives to resurrect its sporting culture.

We talked for more than an hour and I emerged from the interview believing Wong is excited about his mission, and the work that lies ahead.

The $1.3 billion Hub, which will open its doors from April next year, is the largest Public-Private-Partnership sports project in the world.

It is located on a 35-hectare site at Kallang, and the Singapore Sports Hub consortium, which won the bid to build and run the project for 25 years, is charged with installing events that will draw the public out and stir their imagination every year.

The Government will spend an additional $400 million on sport over the next five years.

That means the total budget for sports will cross $1.2 billion within the same duration.

Vision 2030 was launched last year.

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