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Firm 'misjudged' impact on pitch: Minister

IMPROVING: Events have been postponed to allow the pitch grass to grow and stabilise. TNP PHOTO: NICOLE QUEK

The root of the pitch problems at the National Stadium lies in SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL) taking three months longer than expected to complete the project, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong told Parliament yesterday.

The stadium's completion in June also meant there was not enough time for the grass on the pitch to grow and stabilise.

Mr Wong said that SHPL "misjudged" the impact that the intensive events calendar would have on the pitch.

To solve these problems, SHPL has taken remedial action such as buying growth lights at its own cost to help the grass grow.

It has also postponed events such as the Jay Chou concert - from Nov 8 to Dec 27 - to give the pitch more time to stabilise before the AFF Suzuki Cup on Nov 23, said Mr Wong.

"With the freeing up of the events schedule and the measures put in place so far, we have already seen improvements in the pitch conditions," Mr Wong said in reply to MP Pritam Singh, who asked if any steps will be taken to ensure the pitch is up to the mark.

"At the same time, Sports Hub has been engaging local and overseas experts to fundamentally re-examine its earlier assumptions and models for the use of the pitch."

Football teams like Brazil and Serie A champion Juventus, who played at the National Stadium recently, have expressed concerns over the condition of the pitch.

A rugby match featuring New Zealand's Maori All Blacks was also cancelled due to similar concerns.