SINGAPORE - With the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub set to open its doors in April, 2014 is poised to create a buzz in the country, even among those not too keen on sports.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, World Sports Group (WSG) senior vice president, stadiums and arenas, Adrian Staiti, and its chief executive, Andrew Georgiou, reiterated their belief that the Sports Hub will be a game-changer.
With a Singapore-Malaysia football match lined up in the middle of next year, a football club competition in August, and tennis' WTA Championships in October, as well as non-sporting events in the pipeline, Georgiou revealed that "promoters can't find time slots" at the Hub.
Drawing from the festivities and other forms of entertainment surrounding marquee American events like the NBA's All-Star weekend and the National Football League's Super Bowl, Staiti asserts that the modern fan expects more than "just on-court action."
"The Sports Hub provides infrastructure for that, and the WTA Championships will likely be the first event to create that kind of festival atmosphere," said Staiti.
The next five editions of women's tennis' top year-end event - it features the leading eight players in the world - will be hosted at the Sports Hub, with the first scheduled in October next year.
A 10-day spectacle has been planned with concerts, fan-zones, coaching and even autograph sessions in the heartlands.
The aim is to engage every type of Singaporean.
"The WTA is an opportunity for Singaporeans to come and watch a premium event - but premium doesn't mean expensive or inaccessible - it just means world class," said Georgiou.
"Singaporeans can be guaranteed that they will have access, some parts free, some very cheap, some parts more expensive."
From kiosks for kids to try out games, to training sessions and video walls and the matches, Singaporeans can get involved at varying costs.
In a deal worth more than $50 million, OCBC Bank has already jumped on board as the Hub's "premier founding partner," with more corporate partnerships already in the pipeline.
WORLD CLASS VENUE
"This is a world class venue supported by a local company in a genuine commercial deal. But the money OCBC are going to spend to bring Singaporeans to the venue is, in my opinion, more valuable," said Georgiou.
"I think it is a catalyst for other things."
Staiti revealed that they are already in talks with other corporations who are keen to come on board, albeit at a lower tier partnership, with announcements expected soon.
"If you marry infrastructure, events, the corporates' involvement, then, boom, you have a marketplace, it won't happen overnight, but it's in place," said Staiti.
Georgiou is optimistic about Singaporeans embracing the Hub.
"You have to give Singaporean fans a reason to come back - good food, good sport - a good experience," he said.
"That experience is the acorn that will create that culture (of getting involved and going to events), but it takes time."
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