National Stadium delays may cause cancellation of events

BEHIND: A view of the under construction National Stadium in Singapore in February.

SINGAPORE - It has been billed as a historic event - the first major sporting event in the spanking new 55,000-seater National Stadium at the Kallang Sports Hub.

But the World Club 10s rugby tournament, scheduled at the Hub on June 21 and 22, could be cancelled.

The New Paper understands that work at the stadium is behind schedule, mainly because of problems with the retractable roof and the state-of-the-art hybrid grass pitch.

The 35-hectare Sports Hub includes the 6,000-capacity OCBC Aquatic Centre and the 3,000-capacity OCBC Arena.

The $1.3-billion facility was initially slated to open its doors this month. This was later pushed back to June.

A further delay to the June date would leave the Rugby 10s, and possibly other events, in limbo.

A source close to Singapore Sports Hub Pte Ltd, the consortium behind the project, said the possibility of a delay has been discussed with the event organisers.

"Some of the event organisers have been given a cut-off date by the Sports Hub, on when the respective events can be confirmed as a go or no-go," said the source.

BEHIND SCHEDULE

"It's no secret that the National Stadium is behind schedule. The pitch was seeded only last week and the roof is not 100 per cent yet."

When contacted by TNP, Mr Philippe Collin Delavaud, CEO, SportsHub Pte Ltd, said: "We will deliver the Sports Hub campus and all facilities in June 2014 and are working full steam ahead towards opening."

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said the World 10s is still on schedule but it won't be staged if the Hub is not ready.

"The window for this event is very specific because it is during the rest period for some of the teams competing," Mr Low said.

"It is when the Southern Hemisphere teams have a break from Super Rugby.

"So if we cannot stage the 10s on June 21, we cannot stage it at all. There is also no recourse on the venue - it has to be at the new National Stadium."

The inaugural World Club 10s was to feature eight elite rugby clubs from around the world, including the Brumbies from Australia, French champions Biarritz, Welsh side Cardiff Blues and the Asia Pacific Dragons.

Officials expect more than 15,000 fans to turn up. Indeed, the experience of staging a high-profile rugby event would have done wonders for Singapore as it bids to be a part of the Sevens World Series in 2015-16, and host the 2018 World Cup Sevens tournament.

World Club 10s one-day $40 or two-day $70 passes were already on sale from last month.

The first sporting event slated at the Hub is the SEA Swimming Championships, from June 14 to 26, at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Singapore Swimming Association executive director Edwin Ker said he has not received word about any delay.

"I'm assuming the new Aquatic Centre is on track because I have not heard otherwise. But yes, I have heard about the stadium delay," he said.

If the Sports Hub's completion is delayed and it results in the cancellation of the World Club 10s, Sports Hub Pte Ltd could potentially face claims from two parties - the Government, who awarded the contract, and the organiser of the rugby event, Hong Kong-based firm Carinet Sports Marketing.

Mr Lau Kok Keng, Partner of Rajah & Tann LLP, told The New Paper: "Generally, in construction projects, whenever there is a delay in completion, you would expect the owner to look to the contractor to claim liquidated damages for each day the completion of the project is delayed."

Specific damages for any delay is usually worked into a typical construction contract, he added.

aakasim@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 30 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.