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Talks to hold NDP 2016 at Sports Hub at an impasse

SINGAPORE — With about nine months to go before the National Day Parade (NDP) next year, the venue for the event is still up in the air, with Sports Hub and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) locked in negotiations.

TODAY file photo.

TODAY file photo.

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SINGAPORE — With about nine months to go before the National Day Parade (NDP) next year, the venue for the event is still up in the air, with Sports Hub and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) locked in negotiations.

The 2016 NDP was expected to be held at the S$1.33 billion Sports Hub, and TODAY has learnt that a major issue to be worked through is the financial impact — estimated to be at least S$19 million — that the hosting of the event would have on Sports Hub.

Based on documents seen by this newspaper, the setting up for the parade, rehearsals and the actual event are expected to take up to 80 days, stretching from June to August.

In all, NDP would require the use of several venues and sites at the Sports Hub including the 55,000-seater National Stadium, OCBC Arena, OCBC Aquatic Centre, Water Sports Centre, carpark, and community facilities. This could have a knock-on effect on the Sports Hub, with national sports associations having to look for replacement training venues. Community events and public bookings of facilities could also be affected, while the Sports Hub’s water festival  slated to be held at the Water Sports Centre during the June school holidays  may have to be moved.

The bulk of the estimated financial impact comes from the rental of facilities. Nevertheless, about 30 per cent is attributed to the impact on footfall and retail sales at the Kallang Wave Mall. With an estimated 40 per cent drop in footfall expected over the NDP period  including four weekends  tenants at the Kallang Wave Mall would also be affected by road and carpark closures. Retailers would also be unable to cash in on a large part of the Great Singapore Sale period, and miss out on the school holiday crowds.

There could also be impact on Sports Hub’s revenues in subsequent years, when tenancy agreements for Kallang Wave Mall retailers and licences for National Stadium suites are up for renewal, for example.

Singapore Sports Hub managing director Mark Collins had previously said that the firm is obliged under its contract to offer the Government use of the National Stadium for free for the NDP and rehearsals, as well as major sports events such as the SEA Games. TODAY understands that this obligation is applicable only for a certain number of days.

MINDEF and Sports Hub - which opened in June last year - had explored the possibility of hosting the 2014 NDP at the National Stadium, but that plan did not materialise due to time constraints. NDP this year, for Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, took place at two locations - the Padang, where the first NDP in 1966 was held, and the Marina Bay floating platform - to enable more spectators to be part of the occasion.

When contacted by TODAY, Singapore Sports Hub referred queries to the NDP 2016 executive committee. A MINDEF spokesperson said: “Negotiations with the Sports Hub to secure the venue for next year’s NDP are still ongoing. The NDP 2016 executive committee will update on the confirmed venue after negotiations have completed.”

Some retailers at the Kallang Wave Mall whom TODAY spoke to said they were concerned about the potential impact that NDP 2016 would have on their businesses. Mr Yong Keng Pin, a shop assistant at OTO Sport, said that road closures would affect sales as customer numbers could fall by 50 per cent. “Sales are already pretty slow here even though we’re not too sure why, so there is concern that it will drop even further,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Muhd Syafiq, a retail assistant at sports apparel and equipment outlet Weston Corp, said: “I don’t think we should expect any form of compensation or discounts during the period… Shops should find their own ways to boost sales, such as promotions and other form of publicity.”

Even as discussions continue for NDP 2016 to be held at the Sports Hub, organisers of some events have had to turn to alternative venues due to costs and other issues. Just last week, MP & Silva announced that the Merlion Cup football tournament would not be held at the National Stadium after negotiations broke down over a force majeure clause in the contract  despite concessions made by the Sports Hub.

Singapore Athletics is also considering moving the Asia Masters Athletics Championships to Bishan Stadium as it is unable to afford the conversion  for switching from “football mode” to “athletics mode”  and variable costs for the National Stadium, totalling S$600,000. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ADELENE WONG

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