Taxpayers face further repair bills for stadium

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 September, 1998, 12:00am

Taxpayers will have to pay millions extra to repair the Hong Kong Stadium, after more defects were found at the problem-plagued venue.

Preliminary findings show an estimated $1.1 million is needed to re-install the underground air system, found to be under water when the Provisional Urban Council took over the $1 billion arena from Wembley International in May.

The sum represents a quarter of the price of the two-year-old system, which serves as a back-up for the pitch in various weather conditions, pumping air and water during dry times and draining excess water on rainy days.

The council also faces an unexpectedly large bill of $5.5 million for work on a slope at the back of the stadium which has blocked an emergency passageway.

'The bill was originally expected to be about $500,000,' stadium manager, Choy Chi-mun, said.

'The extent of work was beyond our expectations . . . the restoration is expected to cost $5.5 million now.' Stadium Board of Governors chairman, Ambrose Cheung Wing-sum, said the council would find out who should take responsibility for the defects.

'I am not making any allegations about anybody, but I just wonder why these defects were not being handled and why there was no maintenance coverage,' Mr Cheung said.

The council approved $6.46 million last month for emergency repairs after water seepage was found to be threatening expensive equipment, including computers.

The seepage was said to have been a defect left by Wembley International, sacked as managers in May. The council and Wembley are embroiled in a legal row over the contract.

Councillors also discussed the possibility of opening the stadium as a golf driving range to boost revenue.

A three-month consultation with golf clubs in Hong Kong and southern China will be held to determine organisers' interest.

But local clubs such as the South China Athletic Association and Hong Kong Golf Club say existing venues are sufficient for local demand.