Game on, all systems go at National Stadium

ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

The National Stadium, for so long the cauldron of Singapore sporting glories, is back in business. The 55,000-seater complex re-opens its doors today when it hosts the weekend's Rugby World Club 10s competition.

While the Sports Hub's official opening ceremony will take place only next year, many are relishing the resumption of the National Stadium as a functional sporting arena after six years of planning and construction.

Said Mr Low Teo Ping, president of Singapore Rugby Union, the sanctioning body of the rugby event: ''It is a tremendous feeling, and we are very proud. A lot of people are excited about it, and anxious about the new National Stadium.

''We believe the facilities are impressive and ready. It is game on, all systems go.''

Added Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik: ''We hope to begin building a relationship between Singaporeans and the Sports Hub.''

The National Stadium is a dazzling update from the original stadium, which was known fondly as the Grand Old Dame of Kallang.

Opened in 1973, the old stadium was closed in 2007 and demolished in 2010.

Among its successor's new features are a retractable, domeshaped roof which shelters both players and spectators from the elements, and a capability to change its seating plan based on the event being hosted.

The stadium forms the centrepiece of the $1.3 billion Singapore Sports Hub, which includes other arenas such as the OCBC Aquatic Centre, the OCBC Arena and the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Construction of the Sports Hub began in 2010, two years after the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium was chosen to build and run the new National Stadium and Sports Hub.

Financial concerns resulted in the completion date being pushed back on several occasions, but the dust has settled and a fresh chapter in Singapore sporting history is ready to be written.

The next weekend will see a host of activities taking place around the Sports Hub.

The official 2015 SEA Games countdown event will take place amid fireworks and laser displays at the waterfront area outside the National Stadium on Friday.

Then, on next Saturday, the National Stadium will host the Singapore Chinese Orchestra's Our People Our Music 2014 concert, which is expected to draw more than 20,000 spectators.

From June 30 to July 31, the Sports Hub's facilities, including venue tours at the National Stadium, will be free for the public.

siangyee@sph.com.sg

twtoh@sph.com.sg

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