If you build it, they will come: Premier League Asia Trophy demand highlights need for Kai Tak Sports Park, says official
Over 50,000 tickets for next month’s two-day tournament at Hong Kong Stadium snapped up in 24 hours, but local official Brian Leung Hung-tak wants the finance committee to approve new venue
Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak heaped pressure on the government’s finance committee and their final approval of HK$31.9 billion Kai Tak Sports Park project by claiming the high demand for Premier League Asia Trophy tickets proves Hong Kong could easily fill the proposed 50,000-seat stadium.
Over 50,000 tickets for next month’s two-day tournament at Hong Kong Stadium involving Liverpool, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace were snapped up within 24 hours as the popular event returns to Hong Kong for the fourth time overall and first time since 2013.
But it will again be played in front of a sold-out but outdated 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium, which was slammed in 2013 for having a “killer pitch” by then Sunderland coach Paolo Di Canio after torrential rain hit Hong Kong during the tournament.
Following the approval by the public works subcommittee last week, the long-awaited project on the former airport site now needs to be put forward to the finance committee to receive the required budget.
If the government fails to obtain the green light before the current council year closes in July, they will probably have to wait until December to resubmit the project before facing a construction period of four to five years.
“It proves the enthusiasm for big events in Hong Kong as the Asia Trophy ticket sales has told us,” said the outspoken official Leung.
“Even if the matches are being held at the proposed new venue, I am sure there will still be a lot of disappointed people who fail to get the tickets.
Sports chief: HK$32b Kai Tak Sports Park ‘no white elephant’ – and Hong Kong can play part in China World Cup with it
“I sincerely hope the Legco members can give sports an opportunity so that we can have a modern venue for mega events.
“Hong Kong is lagging far behind our Asian counterparts in terms of sports facilities and if we cannot get the financial approval this time, we don’t know how long we have to wait.”
The 50,000-seat stadium is included in the 28-hectare sports park project along with a 10,000-seat indoor arena, a 5,000-seat sports ground, and other support facilities such as a hotel, offices, dining area and public open spaces.
“The forthcoming Asia Trophy will be the fourth time we host the tournament and we need to convince the Premier League we are keen to run the popular event more in future,” said Leung. “A new and modern stadium with expanded capacity will probably do the job.”