Work on long-awaited HK$32 billion Kai Tak sports complex hoped to begin next year
The government will seek funding from the Legislative Council’s finance committee in the next quarter
Taxpayers have been assured that the final price tag of the long-awaited sports complex in Kai Tak will be capped at about HK$31.9 billion, as the government expects to seek funding from the Legislative Council’s finance committee in the next quarter.
The government also plans to hand over the design, construction and daily operation of the Kai Tak Sports Park to a consortium for 25 years, during which time the operator will be required to share its operating income with the government.
Officials hope to launch a tender exercise in the third quarter of the year in order to begin construction next year, with completion in 2022.
The plan will be tabled to the Legco home affairs panel for discussion next Monday. The funding will need the approval from the council’s public works subcommittee and finance committee, where rounds of inquiries by lawmakers are likely.
Commissioner for sports, Yeung Tak-keung, warned on Monday that the cost could go up by as much as 5 per cent if the project was delayed by a year.
He said the present plan had been the outcome of rounds of public consultation in recent years and he was hopeful that the project could attract bidders. The government projection is that the successful bidder could break even in as little as three years, with a projected annual net profit of HK$276 million.
Some 19 years after the Kai Tak airport closed, the harbourfront site on Kowloon Bay is still essentially waste ground. Plans for a sports complex at the site go back to the mid-2000s.
Under the latest plan, the sports park will comprise a 50,000-seat multi-purpose main stadium with a retractable roof, on completion of which, Yeung said, will be able to cater for international matches as big as the Asian Games. It is expected to handle 30 event days a year.
There will also be a public sports ground with seating for at least 5,000, and a large indoor sports centre with a main arena with seating for at least 10,000.
Pui Kwan-kay, a vice-president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, said the sports complex was long overdue.
“The last thing the sports sector wants to see is further delay because of pan-democrats’ filibustering,” said Pui.
“Hong Kong deserves to have a modern sports complex that is up to international standard to allow us to host more international matches,” said Pui, “When such facilities are available, the international sports associations will come to stage matches here. We have to look ahead.”
A member of the home affairs panel, democrat Hui Chi-fung, said he appreciated the need for a large scale sports complex in Hong Kong: “But, we also have to make sure the best use of public money”.
“It is unfair to say that we will resort to filibustering to block the project. But we are not going to give the go-ahead easily just because the government wants to meet its schedule of construction or completion,” added Hui.