They came, they saw, they played at the Sports Hub

SINGAPORE - Fireworks lit up the sky above the Sports Hub last night as thousands of Singaporeans took their first close-up glimpse of the long-awaited venue.

Although visitors to the open house could not enter its centrepiece - the new 55,000-capacity National Stadium with its retractable roof - they could stroll around the 35ha compound and its mall, sports museum and library.

Sports fans played ball games at the compound's waterfront area while about 6,000 people took part in a walk-a-jog event.

Among them was retiree Richard Chan, 66, who was wowed by the sheer size of the complex.

"It's massive," he said. "I thought it would be just a sports stadium like Jalan Besar stadium, but this is quite big."

Project coordinator Daniel Shee, 51, was spotted snapping away with his camera. "It's grand," he said. "It feels more complete than the old stadium, with the swimming pools and Kallang Wave mall."

Systems architect Iliyas Mohamed, 38, took a peek through a gate at the dome-shaped roof of the new National Stadium, which took four years to build.

"I was wondering how they built the massive roof without any pillars in the middle to support it," he said. "It's amazing how they built the stadium within a short span of time."

Undergraduate Cheryl Tan, 21, added: "It's cool... the entire modern feel is so different from the old stadium. I'll probably come back another day."

A half-hour fireworks and laser show marked the one-year countdown to the 2015 South-east Asia Games, which will be hosted at the complex.

Today, the second and final day of the open house, visitors can get a sneak preview of indoor facilities such as the Aquatic Centre.

It will hold a water polo competition and a synchronised swimming and diving display by national athletes. The centre boasts two Olympic-size swimming pools and a 5m-deep diving pool.

From 9am to 4pm, visitors will also be able to try out nine different sports, including judo and badminton, at the OCBC Arena, a multi-purpose indoor hall. Equipment will be provided and coaches will be on hand. All sports facilities are free for use until July 31. Fees have yet to be announced.

Tonight, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra will perform a concert called Our People, Our Music at the National Stadium, where a 20,000 crowd is expected.

Local singer Stefanie Sun will perform next Saturday, and a friendly match between Italian football club Juventus and a Singapore team will take place on Aug 16. Free guided tours of the stadium will start next month.

This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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