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May Chen
Friday, Nov 7, 2014

Singapore

Parliament: 'Completion delay, misjudgment' led to stadium's pitch woes

The Straits Times | May Chen | Friday, Nov 7, 2014

The National Stadium's pitch problems are due primarily to the three-month delay in its completion, as well as the Singapore Sports Hub management misjudging the impact that an intensive calendar schedule would have on the field.

Commenting on the sandy state of the pitch yesterday in Parliament, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said that he shares concerns about how the unsatisfactory pitch condition could affect Singapore's global reputation.

Fielding questions from MPs Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) and Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), he said: "SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL) had taken three months longer than expected to complete the National Stadium, and this meant there was not enough time to allow the grass on the pitch to take root and stabilise. In addition, SHPL misjudged the impact that the intensive events calendar would have on the pitch."

While SHPL had carried out testing before deciding on using a hybrid pitch for the National Stadium, and also used a cover designed to allow activities to take place on the pitch with reduced impact on the grass, he noted that it did not work out as planned, partly because the grass did not have sufficient time to anchor deeply enough.

Remedial actions since its opening in June, such as bringing in growth lights to enhance the growth of the grass, cancelling a rugby match featuring the Maori All Blacks, and the postponement of a concert by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, were taken, with SHPL bearing the costs.

Mr Wong said these measures have resulted in vast improvements to pitch conditions in time for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup later this month.

Nevertheless, SHPL has been tasked to go through the results of its earlier testing to ensure a suitable long-term solution. He said: "(SHPL) will share results with the Government, with Sport Singapore, and we are also asking our own experts from NParks (National Parks Board) to satisfy ourselves that whatever solution proposed is a robust one."

Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik confirmed that SHPL is doing its utmost to get the pitch right.

"We are indeed working hard to optimise the pitch in preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup and are tracking its progress very closely," he said.

Mr Wong acknowledged SHPL's efforts in taking ownership of the situation, and said that while there were exit provisions in the partnership that the Government could activate, they were not being considered.

maychen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 05, 2014.
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