Build it and they’ll come: Bigger badminton venue at Kai Tak Sports Park will attract international events to Hong Kong

The proposed Indoor Sports Centre will have a seating capacity of 7,000 following public consultation by the government, with officials now eyeing the top-level World Championships and Sudirman Cup

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 7:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 10:53pm

Hong Kong will bid for the biggest badminton events after the government revised the seating capacity of Indoor Sports Centre at the proposed Kai Tak Sports Park, which is due to be completed in 2022, but only if the construction can start in 2018 as anticipated.

One of the three venues to be built on the former Kai Tak Airport site, the multi-purpose centre was originally designed with a seating capacity of 4,000 when the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee approved a HK$62.7 million pre-construction works budget for the project last year.

But after the government launched a public engagement exercise last month to provide information on the planning of the project and collect people’s views, the indoor sports arena has now been redesigned with an additional 3,000 seats.

“No one will stage a top international badminton event such as the World Championships or the Sudirman Cup in a venue which can accommodate only 4,000 spectators,” said Hong Kong Badminton Association chairman Tong Wai-lun, who has been against the small seating capacity of the venue from day one.

“If we build a new facility, we have to look ahead and should not compare it with current facilities. We don’t know how many years later the government will build another new facility.

“If the venue can only have 4,000 seats, we can never stage big events because firstly the international federation would not be satisfied with such a small attendance and more importantly, we will face difficulties of securing sufficient income to run the event.”

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Tong said they would definitely bid to stage the two biggest events in the world – the World Championships and Sudirman Cup – once the new facility is in place and can move their flagship event - the annual Hong Kong Open to the new venue.

He urged the government to fulfil the expectations of the sport community by starting construction in 2018.

Badminton is currently using the Coliseum in Hung Hom for the Hong Kong Open, which is a superseries event on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) world circuit.

But they can only use half of the seating capacity of around 6,000 because almost half of the field of play has to be reserved as a warm-up area which is not open to spectators.

And with the warm-up area, they can only set-up a maximum four courts for the competition.

But the proposed new facility can have six courts active at one time as the warm-up area will be placed on another floor, and coupled with the improved 7,000 seating capacity, Tong is confident of hosting major events in future.

The arena can also provide a playing surface equivalent to 30 standard badminton courts during non-event days for the community which Tong said would be a big boost for badminton development at grass roots level.

Another regular user of the Coliseum, the Volleyball Association, may not move their flagship event – the annual Women’s World Grand Prix – to the new venue even if it has been completed.

“We want to entertain as many fans as possible as the grand prix tournament alway fill the Coliseum with a 10,000 attendance,” said association vice president Marina Tsui Wai-fun.

“But the new venue will definitely be fit for staging a regional competition like the Asian Championship which we will consider in future.”