Hong Kong Legco grants cash for Kai Tak sports park – 11 years after it was first mooted

After another long debate, and despite pan-democratic filibustering, stadium and indoor arena project gets green light

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 6:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 11:00pm

Hong Kong legislators granted the cash for the long-awaited HK$31.9 billion sports complex in Kai Tak after a six-hour debate on Friday, despite lingering doubts over the project’s pro-business financial arrangements.

At the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee meeting, 36 lawmakers green-lit the sports park, with 21 voting against it.

Despite filibustering efforts by pan-democrats, the committee’s pro-establishment majority got the government’s funding application passed.

Speaking after the passage, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah called it “a very important step for sports development in Hong Kong”.

“We hope that the construction period will be started in the middle of next year,” he said.

The 28-hectare project on the site of the former airport will incorporate a 50,000-seat stadium, a 10,000-seat indoor arena and a 5,000-seat community sports ground, plus shopping areas and a “dining cove”.

The news was welcomed by the sports community, as the multibillion-dollar project could finally start, 11 years after it was first proposed.

“It’s like a dream come true, as Hong Kong can own a facility that truly lives up to its reputation as a modern city,” Olympic committee president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting said.

“We have hosted the East Asian Games in 2009, which only featured nine nations and regions. But with the new facility in place, we can think of something bigger,” he said.

The project was due for completion in 2023.

‘Get Kai Tak sports complex right or you lose HK$1 billion’

Yapp Hung-fai, captain of the Hong Kong soccer team, said: “It will be a big incentive, for the players to get the opportunity to play in a world-class venue.”

Pan-democrats grilled officials during Friday’s debate session, accusing the government of abusing taxpayers’ money to benefit private businesses.

Under the plan, the government will cover all building costs,while the winning bidder from the private sector gets to design, build and run the complex under a 25-year contract.

In a purported attempt to attract more competitive bidders, the government also plans to compensate each unsuccessful bidder for the project up to HK$60 million, or 50 per cent of what their bid costs them, whichever is lower.

Additional reporting by Chan Kin-wa