Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sports Hub: Vivian asks for patience

Please be patient and Singapore will get a Sports Hub everyone can be proud of.

That was Dr Vivian Balakrish-nan’s response to queries on the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium’s (SSHC) recent decision to launch a financing competition to raise money for the delayed project.

The completion of the Sports Hub, to be built on the site of the National Stadium in Kallang, has been pushed back tentatively to late 2013 or early 2014.

The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, who was speaking on the sidelines at the unveiling of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) mascots, appealed for understanding.

‘I understand Singaporeans’ impatience to get this iconic project off the ground. I also want to see a wonderful new Sports Hub for all Singaporeans.

‘But I also ask for your understanding to let me do this properly, carefully and get value for money. Then, in due time, this is something which we can all be proud of,’ he said.

Due to the recession, the $1.87 billion project has encountered funding problems.

Construction is expected to cost $1.2 billion, with the money raised from the private sector. It is understood that the consortium has yet to raise the money necessary for construction to begin.

Dr Balakrishnan said: ‘The delay is unfortunate. It’s not something we wanted to happen. It was caused by, first, inflation in construction costs. Secondly, the fact there is a global financial crisis, credit became a problem. I decided and deliberately delayed it in order to get the best deal possible for Singapore.

‘Yes, this has been a deliberate decision but now the signs are positive again. This is now exactly the right time to proceed and the first step is to conduct this competition for financing. I’m sure we will get good offers placed on the table and I’m sure we can then proceed.’

The SSHC had hoped to pull down the National Stadium by the first quarter of next year, but this is dependent on the final contract being signed first.

Demolition will take about three months. Construction can then begin and will take about three years.

Since the announcement of the project in 2005, the completion date has been pushed back repeatedly from next year to 2011, 2012, and then 2013.

Singapore’s hosting of the South-east Asia Games in 2013 is now uncertain, as the biennial event was supposed to showcase the Hub.

Yesterday, the two YOG official mascots were unveiled at Suntec City. Named ‘Lyo’ after the lion and ‘Merly’ after the Merlion, the duo will promote the Olympic va-lues of excellence, friendship and respect through their acts and stories.

They will also be promoting the inaugural YOG – to be hosted at various venues around Singapore next August – by visiting five countries on five continents. The destinations have yet to be confirmed.

Both mascots have been given background stories.

Lyo, whose mane resembles the Olympic flame, stands for ‘Lion of the Youth Olympics’. He is a basketball enthusiast and a guitarist and loves dishes like chilli crabs and chicken rice.

Merly got her name from ‘mer’ (meaning the sea) while ‘l’ and ‘y’ stand for ‘liveliness’ and ‘youthfulness’ respectively. She dreams of becoming an environmental scientist, and the vegetarian’s favourite dessert is ice kacang.

Source: Sunday Times, 22 Nov 2009

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