HK$40 billion plan to build Hong Kong's biggest sports complex

Massive development that includes 50,000-seat stadium would be built and run by private companies in 'cheapest' of five proposals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 3:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 11:03am

Private companies would design, build and operate Hong Kong's biggest sports complex under a HK$40 billion proposal favoured by the government.

The Home Affairs Bureau, outlining the plan in a paper for legislators, says it is the cheapest of five options recommended by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services.

It includes HK$23 billion for construction alone, as estimated in another document last month.

Other costs including design, maintenance and the buildings' "life-cycle" costs incurred during the 30-year concession period make up the remaining HK$17 billion.

The complex will have a 50,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, a 5,000-seat sports ground and a 4,000-seat indoor sports centre. It will take up 28.2 hectares, roughly eight per cent of the whole development at the former international airport.

"Our aim is that the design of the stadium will allow for a greater range of events than the Hong Kong Stadium [with] scope for large-scale entertainment events," the bureau says in the document to be discussed by the Legislative Council home affairs panel on Monday.

It envisages that enterprises such as construction companies, event organisers and facility managers would form a company to design, build and operate the complex.

This company would raise the capital to finance the project and when commercial operations started, the government would begin paying back the costs.

The document said the model would reduce cost to the government as the risk of design and construction variations would be shouldered by the private sector.

Surveyor Raymond Chan Yuk-ming said more details were needed before deciding whether the risk-adjusted cost of HK$40 billion was reasonable. He said the design and operation costs would be less than HK$17billion. He said the model would allow the government to begin the project sooner but at the same time it would lose control over design and construction quality.

Under the plan, construction would start in April 2016 and last 42 months. The document said the project would only be financially viable if the government paid back all the capital costs and guaranteed the operating company a return on equity.

Other options put forward by the consultants included a joint venture, or leasing the land to a private company which would cover all the costs and take all the revenue.

Another involved so-called public works programmes, under which the government would pay all the costs then enter into a management contract.

Plans for the sports complex caused controversy in 2012 when a government adviser said it should be moved to Lantau Island to make way for more flats at Kai Tak.