Sports Hub takeover: A timeline of events leading up to the Govt's move
- Sport Singapore will be taking over the Sports Hub from its current owners on Dec 9
- Completed in 2014 to replace the old National Stadium, the project was conceived to be a public-private partnership with private consortium Sports Hub Pte Ltd
- It has a chequered history that included construction delays, management changes, and technical gaffes involving high-profile events
SINGAPORE — Sport Singapore (SportSG), the national governing body for sports, announced on Friday (June 10) that it will be taking over the ownership and management of the Singapore Sports Hub from its current owner SportsHub Pte Ltd on Dec 9 onwards.
Representatives of SportSG said at a news conference that there were a “confluence of factors for the decision”, but ultimately, it wants to unlock the sports and leisure venue’s full potential for Singapore.
The 35-hectare integrated sports, entertainment and lifestyle hub in Kallang — which reportedly cost S$1.33 billion to build — has become a popular destination for visitors since it was constructed in 2014. However, its journey was not a smooth one.
The following is a timeline of events since the Government announced the construction of the hub.
JANUARY 2008: The Singapore Government announces that it has selected the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium — later known as SportsHub Pte Ltd — as the preferred bidder for the Singapore Sports Hub public-private partnership.
Led by engineering and construction firm Dragages Singapore, the consortium also consists of international private equity fund manager InfraRed Capital Partners, venue operating contractor Global Spectrum Pico (GSP), real estate services company DTZ Facilities and Engineering, and others.
SEPT 29, 2010: Groundbreaking ceremony for Sports Hub’s construction takes place.
News reports said that the ceremony was delayed till this date due to a sharp rise in construction costs worldwide in early 2008, which was followed by the global financial crisis from October 2008.
The financial crisis destabilised the global financial markets and reduced availability of credit, which in turn affected the consortium’s ability to raise the necessary funds from the private sector to finance the project.
The project resumed only after market conditions stabilised in early 2010.
JUNE 2014: Sports Hub finishes construction after 45 months and starts operations.
OCTOBER 2014: A major fiasco surfaces during the Japan-Brazil football friendly match held at the Sports Hub’s National Stadium pitch.
Among the complaints, which overshadow the match, is the state of the football pitch. Brazil's coach Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri at the time — also known as Dunga — says that it contains more sand than grass.
Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive officer of SportSG, then threatens to withhold payments for the Sports Hub until it reaches a standard befitting of the magnitude of the sports events being held at the arena.
DECEMBER 2014: At the National Stadium again, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s concert experience is diminished by a roof that is less than watertight. This led to early criticism of the Sports Hub before its official launch.
JULY 2015: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opens the Sports Hub.
2015: Audit firm KPMG conducts an 18-month audit on operations and finds that there is a lack of alignment of interest among venue operator GSP, the shareholders and government stakeholders.
DECEMBER 2015: Event organisers here say that it costs too much to stage sporting events at Sports Hub, which leads to scuppered plans because it is too expensive for them.
MAY 2016: Sports Hub chief executive officer Philippe Collin-Delavaud steps down, as the group hunts for a new CEO.
AUGUST 2016: Sports Hub hosts the National Day Parade (NDP) for the first and only time, amid clashes over the cost of hosting more rehearsal days.
The NDP held in the Sports Hub had a bill of S$39.4 million. This is more than double the bill for the parade and show held at The Float@Marina Bay in the past years, and costing just S$1 million less than Singapore's 50th jubilee held at the Padang in celebrating its independence the year before.
The show is also marred by a software defect that prevented an image of the Singapore flag from being projected on the domed roof during the finale as planned.
Beyond that, crowd favourites such as the Red Lions parachutists and the mobile marching column were not featured in the show due to the design of the stadium.
MAY 2017: Sports Hub CEO Manu Sawhney resigns amid complaints of management style and commercial decisions, 19 months into the job.
OCTOBER 2017: Prime Minister Lee announces that The Float@Marina Bay will be the permanent place for Singapore to host the NDP, outside of those held at the Padang every five years.
It would be redeveloped as a permanent venue known as NS Square.
The move raises questions over whether this will make it an uphill task developing the National Stadium into an icon like the old stadium it replaced.
JANUARY 2019: Sports Hub CEO Oon Jin Teik quits a year after being appointed to the job, reportedly over disagreements with the board. Acting CEO Bryn Jones takes over.
AUGUST 2019: Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, says in Parliament that there is room for improvement for the Sports Hub when asked about the review to the public-private partnership model.
FEBRUARY 2020: The CEO position at Sports Hub passes to former Singapore Tourism Board chief executive officer Lionel Yeo.
MARCH 2020: Sports Hub is fined for unmet standards, Parliament reveals. The consortium was required to meet a minimum number of sporting event days at the National Stadium and Singapore Indoor Stadium each year, and penalties were imposed if it did not meet these standards.
JUNE 2022: SportSG announces that it is taking over the ownership and management of the Sports Hub from SportsHub Pte Ltd.