Jay Chou concert, rugby match to proceed at National Stadium despite pitch concerns

Groundsmen checking the pitch at the Sports Hub. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
Groundsmen checking the pitch at the Sports Hub. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
 Television still: The Brain, features stars such as Jay Chou. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP
 Television still: The Brain, features stars such as Jay Chou. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP

Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou's concert at the National Stadium on Nov 8 will go ahead as planned, even as the multi-purpose venue comes under pressure from the Asean Football Federation (AFF) to clear its schedule for 15 working days prior to the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

An exhibition rugby match between the Maori All Blacks and Asia Pacific Dragons on Nov 15 is also likely to carry on - just eight days before Singapore's opening Cup group match at the new Kallang facility.

"All options are open for the rugby match, including postponing or moving it to another venue, but we must do what's best to ensure the legacy of Singapore rugby continues - we won't drop the ball after years of good investment in the game," Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said during a media briefing at the 55,000-seat stadium on Monday afternoon.

The stadium's priority is getting its much-maligned field ready for Tuesday's sell-out football friendly between Brazil and Japan.

The sandy, patchy pitch has been slammed for being well below international standards, leading to the purchase of $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment a fortnight ago. The lights, hovering slightly over a metre above ground, are kept on through the night to act like sunlight.

The Sports Hub have also flown in overseas consultants such as Alex Garbea, who was responsible for the Arena Corinthians project, which was named the best field at the World Cup in Brazil. The Romanian will advise on the suitability of warm- and cool-weather grass in the stadium's challenging "micro-climate", which has varying levels of humidity and sunlight during the day.

Greg Gillin, Sports Hub's senior director (stadia) said: "We don't have the luxury of a six-month bedding-in period like most top venues - delays in construction meant we had just two-and-a-half weeks, so we're playing catch-up from the start with our heavy events programming.

"The field is certainly safe and playable. Aesthetically, it's not where we want it to be but trust me, we will get there soon enough."