DEVELOPMENT

Kai Tak sports complex cost put at HK$23 billion by government

Construction of project on former airport site will be funded by taxpayers and operated privately, according to government proposal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am

The city's biggest sports complex - to be located within the Kai Tak development area - will cost HK$23 billion of taxpayers' money and will involve the private sector in its long-term operation.

The Home Affairs Bureau revealed the first concrete plans for the controversial sports complex yesterday. The project will take up 28.2 hectares - roughly 8 per cent of the whole development at Hong Kong's former international airport. A network of cycling trails planned for the Kai Tak area will be extended into the complex.

The plans include a 50,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, 5,000-seat sports ground and 4,000-seat indoor sports centre.

The Public Works Programme will fund the construction, while private sector management will be brought in for the long-term running of facilities, according to the bureau's document, which will be discussed at the Legislative Council next Friday. "This [public-private] approach will offer the greatest certainty in terms of achieving our project objectives whilst also harnessing the expertise and creativity of the private sector," read the document.

Commercial funding for the project is not viable according to previous consultancy studies, the document said.

"Any private sector participation options would be financially viable only if the government were to shoulder all the capital costs and guarantee the private sector a return on equity," the bureau said in the paper.

A seven-person task force will be set up under the recreation and sport branch of the bureau to oversee the project.

If funding is secured, the project will go through a detailed feasibility study in early 2015 costing some HK$50 million, with construction planned to begin in mid-2016 and be completed by 2020.

The complex will also feature at least 10,000 square metres of office space; commercial space of no less than 31,500 square metres for retail, food and beverage outlets; children's play areas, tai chi areas, fitness stations and jogging trails, and a landscaped garden with covered seating. The site is currently zoned for stadium use and "open space".

The sports complex caused controversy in October 2012 when a government adviser said it should be relocated to Lantau Island to make way for more flats to ease housing demands.

Academics suggested increasing the overall development density in Kai Tak could supply 3,000 to 7,000 more homes there.