Construction delay led to pitch woes

Construction delay led to pitch woes

The pitch problems faced by the National Stadium are due partly to its three-month construction delay by the Singapore Sports Hub management, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong told Parliament yesterday.

He added that SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL) also misjudged the impact that an intensive events calendar would have on the pitch, adding to the woes of a stadium that has drawn heavy flak for its sandy field.

MP Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) had asked how the unsatisfactory condition of the pitch would affect Singapore's international reputation.

Separately, MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) asked if any steps would be taken to ensure the pitch is up to the mark for future events.

In his responses yesterday, Mr Wong explained that SHPL had taken three months longer than expected to complete the building of the National Stadium.

Its completion in June meant that there was not enough time to allow the grass on the pitch to take root and stabilise. In addition, SHPL had misjudged the impact that the intensive events calendar would have on the pitch.

Mr Wong noted that SHPL had carried out tests before deciding on laying a hybrid pitch for the National Stadium. The turf was also covered to allow activities to take place on the surface with reduced impact on the grass.

But things did not work out as planned, partly due to the fact that the grass did not have sufficient time to get anchored deeply enough.

Remedial action - such as bringing in lights to enhance the growth of the grass, cancelling a rugby match featuring the Maori All Blacks and the postponement of pop star Jay Chou's concert from Saturday to Dec 27 - was taken.

SHPL is bearing the costs arising from the cancellation and postponement of these events.

"With the freeing up of the event schedule and the measures put in place so far, we have already seen improvements in the pitch conditions," said Mr Wong.

"Sport Singapore will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that SHPL does everything necessary to establish a top-quality pitch for the National Stadium."

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