Officials cry foul over venue revamp

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2007, 12:00am

Plans to redevelop the ageing MacPherson Stadium have caused an outcry because the 'home' of local basketball will now seat 800 fewer fans.

Hong Kong Basketball Association senior executive Sam Ho Wai-hing said shrinking the capacity of the stadium underlined the need for government to provide a designated competition facility.

MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok is run by a non-governmental organisation, which plans to redevelop part of it for commercial use. The 2,000-seat MacPherson Stadium has been the base for many of the local competitions, including the popular AI Division and Senior Shield.

'For many important matches, a lot of fans were already being turned away because of the limited capacity,' said Ho. 'If the new MacPherson Stadium accommodates only 1,200, it will be impractical for us to use it any more. We are running about 3,000 matches a year. For the sport to develop is critical that we have a designated venue with a capacity of 2,000 to 3,000. It's time for the government to consider it seriously.

'It is very disappointing that the government has never thought of providing basketball with a proper competition venue.

'We were only recently told of the redevelopment plan of MacPherson Stadium, which will feature a smaller indoor arena. This is going to be a big blow to the sport because a lot of fans will be denied the chance to watch games.'

There are two bigger indoor venues in Hong Kong - the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom and the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai, but, according to Ho, both require an advance booking of at least 12 months because of their popularity as venues for other activities such as musical concerts.

The government is to redevelop Mong Kok Stadium, the main football competition venue in Hong Kong, with a budget of HK$146 million.