11 March 17 The Straits Times by CHUA SIANG YEE
Partners of the Singapore Sports Hub anticipate a livelier calendar, a day after the facility's operator, Sports Hub Private Limited (SHPL), was urged in Parliament to enhance the venue's vibrancy.
The National Stadium, in particular, suffered from a lacklustre calendar last year. A friendly match between Singapore and Malaysia, which drew about 25,000 fans, was the main football highlight.
The stadium's high rental had reportedly put off several would-be event organisers.
On Thursday, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng told Parliament that SHPL would "seek to keep third-party costs for events at the Sports Hub in check".
Yesterday, OCBC Bank, the Sports Hub's premier founding partner, welcomed the news.
The bank's head of group corporate communications, Koh Ching Ching, said: "Any initiative to promote the vibrancy of Singapore Sports Hub is good news to us. We know that Singapore Sports Hub has been actively rallying the support of the community and bringing more events to its facilities."
Asked if it would consider lowering its rental, the Singapore Sports Hub's senior director for corporate communications and stakeholder management, Chin Sau Ho, said: "We are constantly fine-tuning our operational efficiencies and pursuing cost-optimisation practices to offer greater value..."
The National Stadium is expected to host the International Champions Cup, a football tournament featuring several top European teams, in July. German giants Bayern Munich have confirmed their attendance, while English Premier League leaders Chelsea are expected to join them.
Two-time Fifa World Cup winners Argentina are also tipped to feature in a friendly match in June.
A suite owner who has spoken to SHPL about the sparse line-up of events on numerous occasions hopes the latest news will translate into more events.
The 55,000-capacity National Stadium has 62 executive suites. The membership fees cost upwards of $70,000 a year, depending on suite size.
The suite owner said: "We want the National Stadium to shine for Singapore. It's not about the money but it's a disgrace to have such an iconic place sit there like a white elephant. Hopefully this is not just talk and they will share more details with us soon."
Chin had earlier told ST that "the Sports Hub is committed to continue building a vibrant and quality event and activity calendar".
He revealed that last year, 685 events held at the Kallang venue attracted close to 92,000 participants. This represents a sharp increase from 2015, when just 38,000 participants took part in the community events and activities.
"Just this year, we have hosted the Great Eastern Community Shield football game, the HolyCrit X cycling event and the first of three Super Rugby games," he added.
"Looking ahead, we have more Super Rugby games, and the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens at the National Stadium; Asean Basketball League games and World Boxing Championships at the OCBC Arena; OUE Singapore Open, the Wonderful World of Disney on Ice show, EXO Planet and Sting's 57th and 9th Tour concerts at the Indoor Stadium, among others."