Tseung Kwan O ground an ideal venue: HKFA
Fans will probably have to trek to Tseung Kwan O New Town to watch domestic competitions in the 2009 season when renovation work on Mong Kok Stadium is expected to start.
Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said they had secured government support for the HK$146 million redevelopment project, a first major upgrade of the Mong Kok ground since it opened for local matches in the 1970s.
'We had to find a provisional venue for domestic competition when renovation work on the Mong Kok Stadium starts next year,' said Leung. 'We know the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground will be open next year and with all brand-new facilities there, it could be an ideal venue as an interim arrangement.
'However, we do not have any concrete plan at the moment and still need to work out different options in order to minimise the inconvenience caused to the clubs and fans.'
But a reliable football source said that the HK$350 million Sports Ground, which will be used as the main venue for the 2009 East Asian Games, features top-quality facilities suited for top-flight football and will be the best choice to replace Mong Kok.
'It may cause some inconvenience to the fans in the beginning as they are used to Mong Kok Stadium,' said the source. 'But the Sports Ground will boast an international standard pitch with a capacity of 5,000 seats, of which 3,500 will be covered. It is accessible by mass transit system and other public transport and is therefore a perfect choice.'
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department confirmed that improvement works at Mong Kok Stadium would be carried out from 2009 to 2011.'We plan to seek Legco's funding support within the current financial year, and if everything goes smoothly, works for the project are expected to be completed within 2011,' said a LCSD spokesman.
'We are also discussing with the HKFA on options of overall or partial closure of the venue during the period of the works and any alternative arrangements of holding football matches in other venues with the objective of minimising the disruption.'
The renovation work will see spectator stands on all four sides of the ground with cover for the north and south stands. Currently the 8,000 seats are all without cover.
There will also be renovation of the kiosk, office, storeroom, players' changing rooms, toilets and other ancillary facilities below the spectator stands.