Parliament: Delay in completion of National Stadium among causes of pitch problems

The state of the grass pitch on Nov 4, 2014, at the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN
The state of the grass pitch on Nov 4, 2014, at the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - The three-month construction delay by the Singapore Sports Hub management contributed to the pitch problems that the National Stadium is currently facing, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday.

He added that SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL) also misjudged how an intensive events calendar would impact the pitch, adding to the woes of a stadium that has drawn heavy flak for its sandy pitch.

Member of Parliament Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) had asked how the unsatisfactory condition of the pitch will affect the international reputation of Singapore.

Separately, Member of Parliament Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) also asked if any steps will be taken to ensure the pitch is up to the mark at future events.

In his responses on Tuesday, Mr Wong explained that SHPL had taken three months longer than expected to complete the National Stadium.

Its completion in June meant there was not enough time to allow the grass on the pitch to take root and stabilise. In addition, SHPL misjudged the impact that the intensive events calendar would have on the pitch.

Mr Wong noted that SHPL had carried out tests before deciding on laying a hybrid pitch for the National Stadium. The turf was also covered to allow activities to take place on the surface with reduced impact on the grass.

But developments did not work out as planned, partly due to the fact that the grass did not have sufficient time to get anchored deeply enough.

Remedial action that has followed, such as bringing in lights to enhance the growth of the grass, cancelling a rugby match featuring the Maori All Blacks and the postponement of pop star Jay Chou's concert from Nov 8 to Dec 27 were taken.

SHPL is bearing the costs arising from the cancellation and postponement of these events.

"With the freeing up of the event schedule and the measures put in place so far, we have already seen improvements in the pitch conditions," said Mr Wong.

"Sport Singapore will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that SHPL does everything necessary to establish a top quality pitch for the National Stadium."