Free fun at the Sports Hub

Free fun at the Sports Hub
Team Singapore sprinters (from far left) Muhd Elfi Mustapa, Lee Cheng Wei, Gary Yeo, Goh Chui Ling, Dipna Lim-Prasad, Tyra Summer Ree, Muhd Amiruddin Jamal and Calvin Kang gathered at the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Thirteen years after the idea of a new National Stadium was mooted, the Singapore Sports Hub will throw open its doors on Monday.

A community open house will be held today and tomorrow to give the public a sneak preview. All of the hub's world-class facilities will be free for use during the open house and remain so until July 31.

Although the 35ha complex, which cost $1.3 billion to build, has already played host to a few ticketed sporting events such as the rugby World Club 10s last weekend, the open house marks the first time the public will get to explore the award-winning project at length.

It won a prestigious Future Projects (Leisure-led Development) award at last year's World Architecture Festival, considered the Oscars of the architecture world.

This came as sweet news after a slew of problems that plagued the project. It was hit by repeated delays due to rising costs and financing constraints as a result of the 2008 economic crisis.

Construction was scheduled to start in 2007, when the old National Stadium closed officially, but work began only in 2010.

One of the highlights is the free guided tour to the hub's crown jewel, the new National Stadium, which is usually open only for events. Bookings for the stadium can be done from Tuesday via the hub's website, www.sportshub.com.sg.

The public can also take a dip in the Olympic-sized swimming pools at OCBC Aquatic Centre, play volleyball at the spacious multi-purpose indoor sports hall OCBC Arena or kayak at the Water Sports Centre. All the sports facilities will start charging fees, which will be announced at a later date, from August.

Mr Oon Jin Teik, chief operating officer of the Sports Hub, welcomes feedback so that his team can fine-tune the venue's offerings.

"We want to create a bond with Singaporeans. A concrete building comes alive only when there are people using it."

The open house will kick off with the countdown to the 2015 South-east Asian Games today, culminating in a fireworks and laser show at the waterfront. Tryouts for various sports with equipment and guidance from coaches will be held today and tomorrow.

These are expected to become a regular feature every weekend, as part of the hub's Experience Sports programme, which aims to encourage people to take part in sports and lets them enjoy world-class facilities for free. Different activities will be offered each weekend.

There are also shopping to be done, restaurants to check out and a library and sports museum to visit. But only a handful of tenants at the Kallang Wave retail mall are expected to be open this weekend. The mall will open in stages in the coming months. The library is open but the museum will be ready only next month.

"The sports hub is also an entertainment and lifestyle hub. It was not built just for a major game, like some of the others which stopped being relevant after the event," says Mr Oon, referring to some purpose-built sports stadiums in other countries.

"Facilities like the retail mall are designed to draw people, so that even if you don't care about sports, you can still have a good time here."

Booking is required for some of the facilities and guided tours. Go to www.sportshub.com.sg or call 6653-8900.

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