Stadium needs a fresh start

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 1994, 12:00am

WHAT a pity that the redeveloped [Hong Kong] Stadium has become a political football before it has had the chance to prove its value to the community.

Recent debate has focused on the noise issue, but this is really a by-product of the actual problem.

In its anxiety to retain the Stadium management, the Urban Council clearly did not do its homework, in ascertaining whether the financial strategy proposed by the Government - that is that the facility should break even - could be achieved.

The Stadium Board [of Governors], composed mainly of Urban Councillors, then entered into a covert arrangement with Wembley [the London-orientated management company], without the Urban Council itself being involved.

Legco members now seem more interested in determining which party set the policy on the number of concerts to be held, rather than asking themselves two fundamental questions: Can a financial strategy be presented, which allows a break even figure to be achieved, through sporting events alone? If not, what is the minimum number of concerts required to achieve this end? What is the detail of the present management agreement between the Urban Council and Wembley and is this in the best interests of achieving the objectives? In short, the Urban Council has no track record of running facilities in a commercial way.

Had they (and Wembley) had any real understanding of public relations they would not have bombarded the local community with so many musical events from the outset.

Surely, it would have made sense to have built the opening ceremony around the International Rugby Sevens weekend to have allowed the pitch time to have established itself and to have laid emphasis on sport.

This event reaches some 40 million viewers worldwide - all eyes would have been on the marvellous new stadium.

I am sure that had this been done and a calendar of events publicised, showing a reasonable number of concerts throughout the year, the public at large would have lived with that.

Certainly, I do not think leaving the Stadium under the control of the Urban Council is in the best interests of Hong Kong.

I do not know why the management was not given to the Sports Development Board as was the Government's original intention.

Perhaps the appropriate Government Secretary would care to comment? NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED