Exclusive clubs 'deserve low rent'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 12:00am

Exclusive clubs should not have to pay more rent to the Government, a Hong Kong sporting leader said yesterday after it was reported they paid a fraction of market rates.

'They are used by people paying the same taxes as everybody else,' said Con Conway, vice-president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong.

He said the clubs bore huge building and maintenance costs, adding non-members who played organised sports used their grounds.

The South China Morning Post yesterday reported some clubs rented hundreds of thousands of square feet in prime locations for sums comparable to that charged for a Mid-Levels flat. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club pays less than $35,000.

The sales and marketing manager of New York Fitness, Anthony Man, said commercial gyms paid about $800,000 a month to rent about 20,000 square feet.

Several readers critical of the subsidised private club rents contacted the Post. 'Why is the Government subsidising rich expats and rich Chinese when there are crippled people begging near the Star Ferry?' asked one.

Many clubs have leases requiring them to open facilities for government-run activities for up to nine hours a week. It was not clear how often, if ever, the Government exercised this power.

But Mr Conway said clubs such as the Kowloon Cricket Club and Hong Kong Football Club made their facilities available to schools voluntarily, and described the grounds as 'fairly well-utilised'.