The Singapore Sports Hub, with its National Stadium centrepiece, is a treasure that belongs to all Singaporeans, its new chief executive Oon Jin Teik emphasised yesterday.
The 54-year-old former national swimmer, who competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, made the remarks at a press conference to announce his appointment at the helm of the $1.33 billion facility that opened four years ago.
While top-grade sports events will draw in big crowds and generate buzz, Mr Oon believes the hub should not deviate from its purpose to serve the sports and entertainment needs of the country.
"Thirty-five hectares is a lot, it is like a small city. If you look at Old Trafford, it has a capacity of about 70,000. It is the home of a great football team, and the people who go for games are primarily regular attendees and season-ticket holders," he said.
"Our goal is to give everybody in the heartland something new to experience in the Sports Hub through a diverse portfolio of programming."
The hub has healthy statistics to illustrate its growth as a leading sports and entertainment destination. Last year, it hosted more than 200 events across all venues attended by 2.4 million people.
The Coldplay concert in April was a smash hit, with 100,000 attending over two days, while the International Champions Cup in July, featuring Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Inter Milan, saw a similar turnout.
The hub's community initiatives, like its Learn-To-Play programme and FIT sessions for activities like yoga and zumba, were also popular, with a total attendance of 415,000 for last year's offerings.
Mr Oon believes the Sports Hub should continue to engage children, youth and adults, as well as families, seniors and the less privileged.
Sports Hub chairman Bryn Jones said Mr Oon was given the role because of his leadership qualities, adding: "We (the board) had observed Jin Teik for some time, and he is someone who is decisive, and he took on the role of a leader in a passionate and committed way. He has made it a personal passion and vocation to make the project a success."
Mr Oon has a degree in chemical engineering and a master's in business administration from Brigham Young University. Before he joined the Sports Hub, he was a senior executive at Hyflux (2011-2014) and CEO of national sports agency Sport Singapore (2004-2010).
The hub suffered a loss last week when it was announced that the WTA Finals will move to a new host city - Shenzhen in China - after a fifth and final edition here this October. In spite of this, Mr Oon reiterated that his team is working hard to fill the hub's calendar.
He said: "We have to continuously evolve by looking at the relevance of the calendar. We weigh all the factors, from the intangibles to money, and you see what kind of value it can bring. We are always in heavy discussion with Sport Singapore and the Tourism Board.
"It is never easy (to bid for top events) because you are bidding and competing (against strong bids) but, as long as we keep delivering our value proposition, showing what we can do, showing what other ancillary events we can bring forth, there will be attraction.
"That value has been seen by many already, from football to rugby to swimming to badminton and tennis. And we will continue to work on that. Definitely there will be new marquee events, but it is still early to talk about that... maybe when all the stars align."