The big read: The Sports Hub nightmare – what did people think went wrong and could the government manage it better?

Another example of a well-run venue is Wembley Stadium in England, said Mr Matt Rogan, a UK-based author and sports consultant.

The stadium is run by the Football Association (FA) in England and is similarly run as a social enterprise receiving both public and private funding.

However, unlike the SHPL case, where the Singapore government sets its KPIs, the FA itself is the one in charge of the Wembley project.

“Ultimately, there is one person who makes decisions, the FA is responsible for how to manage it, and the people who work to fulfill the commercial responsibilities of the stadium are accountable to the same CEO,” Rogan said. .

“Every pound of profit they make is put back into the growth of the football game.”

He added that local authorities in England set only intangible goals of the FA, not monetary.

Such goals may include leaving the FA to increase the number of girls who play football in England.

However, Mr Rogan acknowledged that football in England has a large and stable audience, which would mean that a lack of ticket revenue is a less risky factor.

Another example of a well-run sports complex is the Arena in Los Angeles, home of the Los Angeles Lakers National Basketball Association (NBA), and several other sports such as ice hockey and boxing.

Mr Mark Lim, a sports consultant and former journalist, said the arena had managed to generate a significant number of visitors on a daily basis as it was located “right in the heart of Los Angeles”, with office space in the area.

In the case of Singapore, renting more non-sporting office space in the Sports Hub and building more office buildings in the area would also help revitalize the area, he said.

“One of my perplexities about Sports Hub and Kallang is that it’s so close to the city and so close to the Central Business District, (yet) one of the things that Sports Hub failed to have is the daily connection to its business there.” said Mr Lim.

However, there are also several sports venues around the world that have not achieved their commercial goals, such as the London Stadium, which was built specifically for the 2012 Olympics.

The stadium is similar to a public-private joint venture owned by both a private company and the British government. Due to this arrangement, the stadium “did not rise to its potential”, said Mr. Rogan.

“There are different stakeholders and it has become very political. This means that they are not agile or fast enough in the development of the stadium for the future, “he added.

As a result, the facility lost many commercial opportunities, such as serving other sporting events. For example, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, which opened in 2019, has a retractable football field with a synthetic grass field below it, which can then accommodate other sports such as American football.

Closer to home is the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, which was built specifically for the 2008 Olympics.

Professor Simon Chadwick, a sports consultant and global sports professor at Emlyon Business School in France, said the stadium was built and originally run by the Chinese government to serve primarily “political purposes” rather than commercial purposes.

“It really was a demonstration asset designed to project Chinese power,” he said. “It was not created to operate as a business and serve the needs of the market.”

He said that after the Olympics, the place turned out to be too far from the city center for most tourists and locals to visit.

“There is little reason to go there unless there is an event,” said Professor Chadwick, adding that it was not until five to six years later that a private management company took over operations at the Bird’s Nest.

“One of the things that the private management company has had trouble with is attracting types of events to the place that would make people actually spend time traveling to see this event.”


One of the reasons given by SportSG for the takeover of the Singapore Sports Center is the increased competition in the region, as new sports facilities are being developed in other Asian capitals.

In Southeast Asia, the Sports Hub is currently standing with its head and shoulders above other places, interviewed sports consultants said.

Mr Walton said: “There are new stadiums being built in countries like Cambodia and Indonesia, for example, but realistically, for major international events such as the World Athletics Championships … Singapore is in a much better position than Indonesia and Cambodia is also in a better position than cities like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok when it comes to positioning itself on the international stage. ”

Agreeing, Mr Lim said the closest rival could be Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Sports Park, which is due to be completed in 2023 and will include a 50,000-seat stadium and a 10,000-seat indoor sports center. .

“Hong Kong, as it is quite cosmopolitan, (can) attract the rugby seven,” he said, referring to the annual competition, which is usually held at the Sports Hub.

However, when bidding for major events such as the World Athletics Championships and the ATP Tennis Finals, Singapore is actually competing with other major cities around the world.

“When you look at the current offers for the World Athletics Championships, Singapore is competing not only with cities in the region, but also worldwide, such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Cape Town and Dubai,” said Mr Walton.

“You have to be at the top of your game to challenge in these situations, and frankly, it is difficult to submit competitive bids unless all key stakeholders such as SportSG, the Singapore Tourism Board, the Economic Development Council and restaurant operators are leveled, “he added.


As SportSG seeks to run the Sports Hub for the “social good” by holding more community-oriented events, additional operating costs are inevitable, business academics said earlier today.

However, there may be other costs that need to be borne in terms of reputation and efficiency, sports consultants said.

Mr Lim said he did not expect the Sports Hub to be as accessible to the public as other stadiums in Singapore, “where anyone can go and run every day”.

However, its reputation as a world-class venue may be affected by more public events taking place there, with wear and tear becoming a factor. “The last thing you want is for the stadium to be a truly public sports hall, because we have all of these around our hearts … it still has to be a first-class experience for the National Stadium,” added Mr Lim, who believes SportSG will create except for certain days for the Sports Hub to be used by the public.

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