Parliament: National Stadium pitch costs will not be passed to tenants and consumers, says Lawrence Wong

The cost of implementing and maintaining the proposed new natural grass turf in the National Stadium will not trickle down to the Singapore Sports Hub's tenants and end customers, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in Parlia
The cost of implementing and maintaining the proposed new natural grass turf in the National Stadium will not trickle down to the Singapore Sports Hub's tenants and end customers, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Thursday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The cost of implementing and maintaining the proposed new natural grass turf in the National Stadium will not trickle down to the Singapore Sports Hub's tenants and end customers, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Thursday.

He added that local sports governing body Sport Singapore will "keep a close watch on rentals, charges and ticket prices" at the Sports Hub to ensure this is so.

Said Mr Wong: "SHPL (Sports Hub Pte Ltd) has already made a public commitment that it will bear the full cost of the new pitch solution and will not pass on the costs to event organisers or end users.

"Sport Singapore will continue to keep a close watch on rentals, charges and ticket prices at the Sports Hub to ensure that this commitment is upheld."

The Sports Hub, which cost $1.33 billion to construct, was built under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme with the Singapore Government.

SHPL, which manages and runs the facilities at the venue, proposed the new "lay-and-play" turf after the original $800,000 Desso GrassMaster field was panned by athletes and officials for its sandy surface. SPHL also spent $1.5 million on special lighting machines to stimulate grass growth to no avail.

The new turf will be grown at a nursery before being laid out in the 55,000-seat stadium before the Singapore SEA Games in June.

Mr Wong also explained why a natural pitch was preferred over an artificial one at the National Stadium, and allayed fears that such a pitch might pose problems to athletes.

He said: "(The lay-and-play natural turf) was preferred ... because top sporting events and top teams in sports like football and rugby demand a natural turf. SPHL is engaging an international turf company to work out the solution for this lay-and-play and I'm sure they will be well-advised on having adequate time to put the pitch in place."

siangyee@sph.com.sg