Sports Hub set to remove founding partner Global Spectrum Pico from consortium

The Sports Hub has also come under scrutiny in recent months due to its high rental.
The Sports Hub has also come under scrutiny in recent months due to its high rental.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL), the consortium which runs the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub, is set to face its biggest internal shake-up yet.

It is believed that SHPL intends to terminate the Venue Operation Contract with Global Spectrum Pico (GSP), one of the consortium's four partners, and insource venue operations within SHPL. GSP is largely responsible for helping to secure both sporting and non-sporting content at the Sports Hub.

The Straits Times understands that there will be a meeting between InfraRed Capital Partners, the majority equity partner, and GSP in the United States on Thursday to discuss this and the future of the partnership model for the Sports Hub.

An audit conducted by KPMG, tasked to oversee the last 18 months of operations, is believed to be one of the main triggers for the meeting. The audit found that there was a lack of alignment of interest between GSP, the shareholders and government stakeholders.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, SHPL chairman Mark Woodhams said in a press statement that a review of the Sports Hub's operations is ongoing. The project is a 25-year public-private partnership between SHPL and the Singapore Government.

He declined to comment on whether GSP would be removed, saying "we take our obligations of confidentiality with our partners seriously".

However, in the same statement, Woodhams added: "Over the 25-year life of the project, it has always been envisaged that there would be continuous improvements that could be implemented to ensure best operational practice."

Sport Singapore, the country's governing body of sports, told ST: "SportSG is aware that SHPL is reviewing its operations. We will continue to require that the terms and conditions of the Project Agreement are met."

The latest development comes after key departures by senior management. In December, GSP managing director Mark Collins and its director of contracts and compliance Daphne Letournel were asked to step down.

Then, sources told The Straits Times that several senior staff members at the Sports Hub did not agree with recent decisions made by the new management.

The Sports Hub has also come under scrutiny in recent months due to its high rental, which some believe has resulted in a threadbare calendar this year.

The National Stadium faced criticism its original $800,000 Desso GrassMaster field, which failed to grow properly in Singapore's climate.

The departure of Collins and talk of GSP leaving the consortium has cast doubt over the future of more than 100 staff, contracted to GSP, who are working at the Sports Hub.

But Woodhams stressed that the review was about improving operational efficiency and "categorically not about reducing headcount".

GSP is a partnership between local event agency Pico and Global Spectrum. The latter is part of American sports and entertainment company Comcast Spectacor group, and serves over 300 clients at some 400 public assembly facilities throughout the United States and Canada.

In a statement sent to ST late on Thursday night, GSP stated that it was dismayed at the manner in which SHPL has, without notice to Global Spectrum or without factual basis, elevated an internal matter regarding the management of the Sports Hub to a public forum.

Comcast Spectacor's president and chief executive Dave Scott added that "no wrongdoing nor contractual breach can be established" and we "resent any implications to the contrary".

"We are confident that as this matter unfolds the focus will be upon our excellent performance as opposed to baseless allegations," he added.