PARLIAMENT

NDP 2016 at Sports Hub to cost $39.4m

Spectators at last year's Golden Jubilee National Day Parade celebration at the Padang. This year's NDP at the dome-shaped venue at the Sports Hub will be among the costliest Aug 9 shows in a decade, second only to last year's NDP, which cost $40.5 m
Spectators at last year's Golden Jubilee National Day Parade celebration at the Padang. This year's NDP at the dome-shaped venue at the Sports Hub will be among the costliest Aug 9 shows in a decade, second only to last year's NDP, which cost $40.5 million.ST FILE PHOTO

Rent of National Stadium pushes up cost of staging event

The staging of this year's National Day Parade (NDP) at the new National Stadium is expected to cost $39.4 million, about double what it cost at the Marina Bay floating platform.

The reason for the steep rise is the rent of the dome-shaped venue at the Sports Hub.

It will make up 15 per cent of the budget, more than three times the cost of using the floating platform or the Padang.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in disclosing the figures in Parliament yesterday, said the higher cost of the venue is "similar to other national events held at private venues".

Half of the budget will be spent on the show segment, a proportion similar to those at the two previous venues, he said in replying to Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) and Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC).

NDP organisers were locked in protracted talks with the Sports Hub before reaching an agreement on the rent last December and for 45 days of use of the place for free.

But technicians and performers from previous parades said that was not enough to prepare for the event.

The Straits Times understands that the Sports Hub wanted $26 million for another 35 days for rehearsals. The figure has been lowered to $10 million, sources said.

The new venue puts this year's NDP among the costliest Aug 9 shows in a decade, second only to last year's Golden Jubilee NDP, which cost $40.5 million.

Previous NDPs at the floating platform cost between $15.7 million and $17.9 million.

The 2010 edition at the Padang cost $20.6 million.

But the 55,000-seat stadium will let about 275,000 Singaporeans watch the show, said Dr Ng. Apart from the parade on National Day itself, there will be two preview shows for people to watch and two National Education rehearsal shows for primary school pupils .

In all, the number of spectators will be more than twice that of previous years.

There will be two, not one, preview shows this year because the organisers have "upgraded" one of the three National Education shows, Dr Ng said in a Facebook post later in the day.

Tickets for the preview shows will be allocated by ballot.

He also said the new venue will let organisers stage a "different type of show", using the bigger confined space and central pitch as a large stage.

It "calls for a different format" as well, he added as he announced that several crowd favourites will not be part of this year's show.

The Red Lions will not be free-falling and parachuting into the stadium for safety reasons.

Also absent will be the aerial displays and the mobile column of a convoy of military vehicles.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked if organisers could hold more rehearsals at other sites to save costs.

Dr Ng said he would leave the decision to organisers but noted that "to put up a good show, they have to put people together to test it".

Following last year's spectacular Golden Jubilee NDP and celebrations to mark Singapore's 50th year of independence, Dr Ng said, this year's organisers are aware that expectations are high for this year's show and comparisons will be "inevitable".

"However, I believe that ultimately, the NDP is a show with Singaporeans, for Singaporeans, and by Singaporeans. The committee will do their best to live up to these expectations," said Dr Ng.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'NDP 2016 at Sports Hub to cost $39.4m'. Print Edition | Subscribe