World-class visionary design needed for Hong Kong’s national sports stadium

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 9:47pm

I refer to James Porteous’ column (“Shut up and start Kai Tak”, May 21).

There is a consensus among government, the sports community and the population at large, following extensive consultation, that this project should go ahead after a 20-year wait. Hong Kong is desperately under-provided with sports facilities of all types and is short of a world-class national stadium for sports and entertainment events. The prospective bill, at HK$30 billion, is large and it is right that legislators should scrutinise the proposal carefully, but under no circumstances should they frustrate it going ahead especially if some are doing so for purely political reasons.

The site overlooking our famous harbour is world class and Hong Kong deserves a world-class visionary design and modus operandi that not only meet the city’s present needs but facilitate the growth of sports and entertainment events far into the future, a future which naturally is as yet dimly seen. Turning to the private sector to deliver this through a design build and operate contractual structure is the best option as it ensures that the future operational vision and necessary flexibility is embedded into the design at the outset.

The present design concept prepared for bidding purposes merely demonstrates the feasibility of establishing this concept on this site and only represents the minimum requirement. What Hong Kong needs is to attract the best designers and operators in the world to come forward with exciting alternative visionary designs and business plans so that the city can be assured of getting a world-class, fully sustainable national stadium complex that can meet the needs of a changing sports and entertainment scene far into the future.

The risks to bidders are high. Individual bid costs are expected to be in excess of HK$100 million and the financial risks of committing to a visionary business plan with uncertain revenue for 25 years are challenging. We want the best in the world to bid and we want their bids to be the best in the world.

The government’s decision to encourage and secure this outcome through extending its investment in the project to the bidding process is also visionary and absolutely right and should be recognised and supported by our legislators.

Nelson Mandela brought a country together through the power of sport. Mark it well.

Terence E. Smith, member, Kai Tak Sports Park Task Force