ELSON: What a bloody waste of money and a good building that held so many fond memories for Singaporeans.
Singaporeans didn’t ask for this – which begs the question of whether it was another scholar-driven project to score points, and change for the sake of making a mark.
For those old enough to remember the beautiful memories of the Malaysia Cup and National Day Parades, held at our true National stadium in Kallang:
The Disaster Known as the Sports Hub
The Sport Hub was a disaster-in-the-making that got made and turned out to be, simply put, a proven disaster for Singapore.
Meant to be a new national icon, it couldn’t even hold National Day Parades without problems.
This is what state media apparatus, the Straits Times, reported in a surprisingly candid and honest assessment:
“The Red Lions parachutists will not be jumping right in front of spectators inside the stadium. The convoy of war machines will not rumble past spectators, either. The stadium’s design will not allow safe passage for the Red Lions nor accommodate tanks and the like.
And, again, because the stadium’s domed design will block most of the view outside, those inside the arena have to give the traditional flypast a miss and settle for indoor – or digital – fireworks.
Spectators will no doubt be disappointed as the Red Lions and sky-high outdoor fireworks have consistently emerged as top picks in surveys done by organisers.”
At the same time, the it cost the government 3 times the price to hold National Day Parade at the Sports Hub.
Sports Hub management demanded S$26 million for an additional 35 days for rehearsals (sources have said the figure had been lowered to $10 million, the final sum agreed is not known.).
To put this cost in perspective, holding the NDP at the Floating Platform in 2015 cost between S$15.7 million and S$17.9 million in total.
A National Embarrassment Swept Under the Rug
The Sports Hub was a public-private partnership build at a cost of S$1.33 billion.
The government, in 2016, disclosed that it agreed to pay S$193.7m to the operator on an annual basis, subject to inflation, for 25 years – about S$4 billion in total.
S$4 billion bucks!
Back in 2008, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who was Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said that that the preferred bidder had “provided a holistic strategy to promote sports participation, leisure, entertainment and lifestyle activities via a focus on community and grassroots sports.”
Today, besides not being able to adequately cope with National Day Parade demands and major sporting events, and major concerts, one wonders whether the Sports Hub has been such an utter failure that the government has to turn to the Float@Marina Bay which started out as a temporary installation.
As announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the floating platform will be renamed as “NS Square” as the government seeks a new venue to host future National Day Parades.
The platform was originally built in 2007 as a temporary stage for NDP when the old National Stadium was torn down for, you guessed it, the Sports Hub.
How many millions of taxpayers’ money have gone down the drain because some smart-ass decided to try and re-invent the wheel without paying enough attention to HOW the damn wheel should be re-invented?
And how many more millions of taxpayers’ money will be spent paying for that white elephant, and funding a whole new development, “NS Square”, for lack of a better and less populist name?
We can only hope that this generation of government officials don’t all possess the Midas Touch.