Kallang Alive? Kallang Roar has more oomph

An artist impression of the various components of the Kallang Alive project, with the Singapore Tennis Centre in the foreground. PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE

How a precinct is styled ought to be just as important as how it is sized, especially if SportsSG aspires to transform Kallang into a world-class sports-related industry, entertainment, lifestyle and tourist destination (Plan to transform Kallang into vibrant precinct by 2025, Aug 7).

For starters, the proposed name for the district, "Kallang Alive", pales in comparison to "Kallang Roar", which defined the experience at the old National Stadium, and would make an instant connection to the legions of football fans who thronged the area from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Plans to establish single-sport facilities like the Football Hub and the National Tennis Centre also seem a tad extravagant, when even questions have been raised about the viability of the proposed velodrome, which can certainly ride on the growth potential of various sports pertaining to cycling and personal mobility devices.

The underutilised Jalan Besar Stadium can easily be refurbished to suit the training needs of our national football squad, while the planned National Tennis Centre should become a facility for major racket games.

I would also question SportsSG's idea to dedicate a whole sub-district to youth-related activity, especially amid its promotion of lifelong sports participation with GetActiveSG.

The absence of a facility for water sports, other than swimming, is similarly mind-boggling, considering the blue assets at the Kallang River and Basin.

Once the whole of Singapore is linked via green connectors, our Lion City can provide an excellent backdrop for the world's leading triathlon events.

As for the revamp of the old Kallang Theatre, it should become the ideal setting and showcase for the nexus between the performing arts and sports like dancesport, gymnastics, and mixed martial arts, to name but a few. World-renowned Cirque du Soleil is an excellent example of such a marriage between the performing arts and sports and should be invited to set up its Asian headquarters here.

Ditto hospitality players which offer sports and fitness programmes as their niche, like Club Med, as well as those who are game enough to create fresh hospitality concepts based on sports, such as a "smart" e-sports-themed hotel.

There is no doubt the area stretching from the site of the old Kallang Airport to Marina East can be a premier global arena for sports and adventure-related industries, entertainment, lifestyle and tourism like no other, if thoughtfully and tastefully clustered and curated.

Toh Cheng Seong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline Kallang Alive? Kallang Roar has more oomph. Subscribe