Singapore on Saturday opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art National Stadium for the first time as the arena hosted a two-day international rugby 10s tournament.
Organisers said the inaugural World Club 10s, featuring eight professional teams from around the globe, is expected to draw about 12,000 people to the 55,000-seat arena over the weekend.
Teams participating in the tournament include New Zealand’s Blues, captained by All Blacks scrum-half Piri Weepu, Australian powerhouse Brumbies and a selection of the Samoa national team.
Also featuring are the Asia-Pacific Dragons, a team planning to enter the successful Southern Hemisphere Super Series with the new Singapore arena as its home base.
Singapore Rugby Union chief Low Teo Ping said the opening of the stadium was an “important moment” for sports in the wealthy island nation.
“A spanking new stadium equipped with ultra-modern facilities and a retractable roof that can take care of the elements – fans have been waiting for this for a long time,” Low, who is also the vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council, told reporters.
The National Stadium, featuring a domed, retractable roof and air-cooled seating, is the centrepiece of Singapore’s US$1 billion Sports Hub complex that is opening in stages this year.
It is designed by London-based engineering firm Arup, which also played a part in Beijing’s iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium project.
The arena is designed like a horseshoe, with one side opening up to a view of Singapore’s glittering waterfront business district.
The 35-hectare Sports Hub complex also includes indoor arenas, an aquatic centre and watersports facility, and a shopping mall.
The Sports Hub complex will host its first football match, Italian side Juventus against a Singapore XI, on August 16.
It will also host tennis’s end-of-season WTA Championships in October, is the confirmed main venue for the next year Southeast Asian Games, and is also likely to hold high-key international rugby and Twenty20 cricket events, officials have said.
The new facility is in Singapore’s riverside Kallang district on the site of the former national stadium, which was known for its famous “Kallang Roar” and fondly referred to locally as Singapore’s “Grand Old Dame”.