Sports Hub to bear brunt of pitch costs

Sports Hub to bear brunt of pitch costs
HI-TECH: The Singapore Sports Hub has installed $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment to stimulate the growth of its rye and blue grass seeds.

SINGAPORE - The costs of relaying the National Stadium pitch will not be passed on to spectators.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong made the assurance in Parliament yesterday, in response to questions from non-constituency MP Gerald Giam.

Wong said: "Under the terms of the project agreement, such costs are fully borne by SHPL (Sports Hub Pte Ltd), and not by the Government.

"SHPL has already made a public commitment that it will bear the full cost of the new pitch solution and will not pass on the costs to event organisers or end users."

He added that national sports agency Sport Singapore will ensure that SHPL keeps that promise.

The $800,000 Desso Grassmaster system of natural and synthetic grass was the subject of criticism from both local and visiting athletes since the opening of the 55,000-seater arena last June.

Despite the purchase of special growth lights which cost SHPL $1.5 million, the consortium had to cancel and postpone events leading up to the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup last November to allow the grass to grow properly.

SHPL decided last month to adopt a lay-and-play system, where natural grass is grown in a nursery and laid onto the pitch.

This system will be used when Singapore hosts the South-east Asia Games from June 5 to 16.

Wong said an artificial pitch was considered, but the idea was rejected because "top sporting events and top teams in sports like football and rugby demand a natural turf".

But he added that it may still be an option in the future.

He said: "If we had an artificial pitch, I doubt very much that we would have a Brazil-Japan match recently.

"(But) the situation will change because... the technology is getting better, and acceptance is growing.

"So we are not ruling (that) out completely, SHPL will continue to monitor and assess whether this can be an option in the future."

This article was first published on January 30, 2015.
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