Funding decision for Kai Tak sports complex 'is best move', say sports chiefs
Officials from associations praise government for footing HK$19 billion cost, saying that it will help save time and money
The government's decision to foot the total estimated HK$19 billion cost of the Kai Tak sports complex will save time and money, top Hong Kong sports officials said.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also earned praise for reiterating the importance of the project in his January policy address.
"We are very grateful to the chief executive for once again pledging that the Kai Tak sports hub will go ahead, as there were still some people doubting that it would be built," said Trevor Gregory, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman.
"And it is excellent to hear that the government has sorted out the financing model to build it and fund it themselves. This is fantastic that things are now starting to move ahead."
Hong Kong Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe was delighted. "It is best to use public funding if the government can afford it and it is good to hear they will fund the project," said Sutcliffe. "The reassurance made by the chief executive in his policy address is also timely."
A laborious process to decide whether to fund the multibillion-dollar project alone - or in partnership with the private sector, as Singapore has done with its Sports Hub, which is scheduled to open in April - has finally ended.
Jonathan McKinley, deputy secretary for Home Affairs, said: "It was decided more time would be lost if we went with a private partner. Finding the right partner would have meant another year or so lost, and as such it was decided that as time is money - with building costs going up all the time - the government will fund the capital costs."
In his policy speech, Leung said: "The Multi-purpose Sports Complex at Kai Tak is a major sports project. The government will continue to accord priority to its planning and maintain close liaison with stakeholders, with a view to commencing advance works for the project in 2015."
McKinley said swift progress was being made now that the funding mechanism had been determined. Earlier in January, the Legislative Council was briefed on the Kai Tak sports complex and that it was consistent with the government's sports policy
"Apart from Legco, we have also briefed the Harbourfront Commission as well as the three district councils involved - Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon City. All the districts are supportive of the project," McKinley said.
But there had been a few dissenting voices among legislators, some of whom had wanted to delay the project by a year over costs and that the government was solely responsible for funding.
"We are still on schedule to finish the project by 2019-20," McKinley said. Every indication is that work on the 50,000-seat stadium and other facilities will only begin in 2016. The next step is to get funding approved for the preparatory work."
Sutcliffe said: "It can't happen quickly enough. But at least things are starting to move forward."