Boost for Hong Kong water sports as Tseung Kwan O waterfront is earmarked for HK$250 million centre

Water Sports Council finalising plans and looking for sponsors to cover estimated cost of HK$250 million facility

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 2:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 9:57am

Plans for a major water sports centre, costing at least HK$250 million, are close to being finalised for the Tseung Kwan O waterfront.

The Water Sports Council, comprising rowing, canoeing, sailing, water skiing, dragon boating, triathlon and life saving, confirmed it had been in discussions with the government for a narrow 1.4-hectare site along the Tseung Kwan O South waterfront promenade.

“All seven sports have indicated their interest in having the centre in TKO. We are now in discussion with the Home Affairs Bureau and it is hoped an agreement can be reached soon,” said council vice-chairman Mike Tanner, who is also chairman of the rowing association.

“It is going to be the biggest centre in Hong Kong with the activities being involved, but it would be too early to say when we can start physical construction of the facility.

“This will wholly depend on the approval and funding process, but we would like to think it might start by the end of next year.”

The council was established in 2013 to provide a joint platform for the promotion of water sports in Hong Kong.

Tanner said they would prepare an activity plan and a funding plan (including operations) for the bureau by next month as the centre would need to be self-financing without government support.

They would also need to obtain the green light from the Sai Kung District Council, although the site has been zoned for recreational activities.

“We will be looking for a number of donors for the building cost and have an estimated budget of HK$250 million based on last year’s calculations. Of course, there would be an adjustment when we start the actual construction,” he said.

Property developers in Tseung Kwan O would be one of the target donors as the centre, which is near the Lohas Park MTR station, would be an added attraction for the newly developed residential area.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club could be another possible source as the public body is funding the construction of the nearby soccer training centre run by the Hong Kong Football Association.

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With no government subvention, the centre’s operation has to be financially sustainable in the long term, but Tanner is confident they will meet the requirements.

“Funding will come through a number of sources, such as user fees and equipment storage fees,” he said. “A percentage of the programmes for several of the sports will be part of the LCSD-subvented programmes for those sports.

“There are a number of other funding sources which can be accessed as part of the operation of the centre. This is now in progress in consultation with all of the sports involved.”

However, the site, which faces Junk Bay and is an ideal venue for water sports, is not without competition.

The Sports Institute in Fo Tan is also looking at the same site to establish a training base for their windsurfing programme and the elite training centre has already approached the Jockey Club for funding support of up to HK$100 million to build the base.

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Tanner said they were willing to work with the institute so both parties could benefit.

“We have has been in discussions with the institute and other parties as to the windsurfing needs and how these might be incorporated into the site,” said Tanner.

“There has not yet been any decision but we recognise the needs of the institute and will continue to discuss collaboratively to find the best solution.”

Tanner said one option was that part of the site could be allocated specifically to the institute, but the council would prefer another solution, such as full inclusion in the development, or allocation of an adjoining site to windsurfing, so as not to diminish the benefits of shared common facilities and services.