Many names, 1 National Stadium?

SINGAPORE - Naming the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub after a single personality is bound to attract controversy - no matter who the choice is.

So instead of wading into the name game, the Sports Hub's top man has a neat solution: Christen the stadium's many facilities and areas after multiple national athletes.

In this way, more deserving local sportsmen will get a slice of the naming pie - and fewer would feel left out.

"You can go to a foyer, an atrium, a space within the facility, a lounge...and we can name one of these spaces after them. I think there's an opportunity to get all their names in the project," Mr Mark Collins, the Sports Hub's managing director, told MyPaper.

Another way to honour Singapore athletes is to dedicate a section to outstanding ones at the Sports Hub's museum, he added.

The possibility of naming both the National Stadium and the Singapore Indoor Stadium after personalities was mooted by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong last month.

Almost immediately, there was discussion on whether the likes of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, former law minister E. W. Barker, or Singapore's first Olympic medallist Tan Howe Liang would be more deserving of the honour.

Mr Collins' idea - which could head off the debate - has some support.

Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua said: "To have some facilities named after our deserving athletes who have done the country proud, why not? I think it's a great idea. If we can (offer a fresher approach) to sports, anything that can create a buzz is definitely welcome."

But retired sprint legend C. Kunalan warned that it might not be enough to make everyone happy.

"You can put a list of criteria that qualifies certain people but, even so, it will be subjective and some may feel left out.

"I don't think anyone has reached a level whereby they have done super great things to have a facility named after them."

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, a sports enthusiast, noted: "We can consider whether it's worth it, but the general public must feel that the people are deserving and inspiring, and have touched their hearts. Public sentiments play a big part in the decision."

Last month, OCBC Group signed a 15-year deal for naming rights to five facilities at the upcoming project in Kallang. The contract, in excess of $50 million, was hailed as the largest sports-sponsorship deal in Singapore.

For now, any decision on the names of the national and indoor stadiums will lie with the Government.

Said Mr Collins: "At this point in time, nothing has been decided as to naming any facility within the Sports Hub campus after a sportsman.

"We support the Singapore Sports Council's position that the Indoor Stadium and National Stadium will be free of commercial naming to keep their national identity."

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