Wembley rejects stadium blame

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 August, 1998, 12:00am

Urban Councillors have been attacked by the former managers of the Hong Kong Stadium, who warn millions of public dollars may go to waste.

Wembley International yesterday threatened further legal action against the Urban Council, which alleged the company may have left the Hong Kong Stadium with $6.5 million in outstanding repairs.

Wembley said the stadium was faultless when it vacated the premises on May 26 and claimed 'free-spending' councillors were using the company as a scapegoat for the problems which it said must have arisen since the departure.

The pair have been locked in a legal dispute since Wembley's sacking by the council in May.

The termination came after a spate of problems at the 40,000-seat arena since its $1 billion refurbishment in 1993.

Urban Services Department staff who have taken over stadium management reported water leaks, which threaten electronic equipment, were up to a year old and must have been known by Wembley.

Wembley spokesman Simon Hill said the approval last week of $6.46 million in emergency repairs for water leaks was 'potentially needless' and suggested councillors were ignorant of the stadium's technicalities.

'Water seepage was certainly not apparent at any time up to our unlawful expulsion . . . but any damage incurred in such a manner may well be under existing warranties,' Mr Hill said.

'There is a 10-year structural defect liability for the facility - this is merely one fact in a myriad of knowledge they may be ignorant of.' He said the fast re-occupation of the stadium by the Government was 'irrational' as technical department staff who knew the arena best were immediately sacked.

'This became the catalyst for a period of potential neglect due to the absence of skilled maintenance personnel who were familiar with the venue,' Mr Hill said.

Chairman of the council's Stadium Board of Governors Ambrose Cheung Wing-sum argued councillors had not yet blamed anyone directly.

He said the board was under 'severe time pressure' to ensure the stadium was repaired by the end of September, when it reopens for events.

'That is why we have appointed an independent surveyor to look at the water seepage and get an accurate and complete record of the problem - this is in complete fairness to all parties,' Mr Cheung said.




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