Much hyped, Sports Hub has yet to resonate with Singaporeans
Events at the Sports Hub, especially the National Stadium, have failed to inspire Singaporeans
Much has been said of Farrer Park recently after the Government announced that the location once known as the heartbeat of Singapore sport would be redeveloped for commercial and residential purposes.
After Farrer Park faded, the old National Stadium took over the role and quickly became the soul of Singapore sport.
The Sports Hub was supposed to take on the mantle, but it is an enigma, with its centrepiece - the new National Stadium - acknowledged as a grand piece of engineering and yet only fleetingly do folk from all corners of the country travel to Kallang to cheer, enjoy an adrenalin rush and have fun watching sport.
Besides football, the stadium can also be configured to host rugby, cricket and track and field, but the investment seems to be for naught because out of all these sports, the only regular visitor at the 55,000-capacity stadium is a leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
As for football, only the Brazil-Japan match in 2014 attracted a full house as hordes of expatriate Japanese and Brazilians armed with beers sang and danced and cheered on their teams.
At last month's Singapore-Maldives friendly, I was struck by the dingy stadium and grey atmosphere, with fewer than 2,500 fans in attendance - on a Friday evening - and only a couple of F&B outlets open.
It was dispiriting and it must change, because we cannot be embarrassed by such a magnificent white elephant.
The Sports Hub, and more crucially the National Stadium, has yet to truly connect with Singaporeans.
This cannot be what the Government envisaged when it inked a deal with the consortium to operate the 35ha hub for 25 years in a unique public-private partnership.
Under the agreement, the Government pays the consortium - comprising Infrared Capital Partners, Dragages Singapore, Global Spectrum and Cushman & Wakefield Facilities & Engineering - $193.7 million per year and it bears the estimated $1.33 billion cost of construction and all operational risks.
The consortium is contracted to its suite owners to deliver at least 15 events a year at the stadium, and while there have been music acts like the Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Madonna, it has been a struggle to attract sports events of similar heft.
With more than 50 corporate boxes in the stadium, I wonder how many companies have decided to stay on after the opening three-year deal with the Sports Hub?
Appointed in January, former Singapore swimmer and Olympian Oon Jin Teik is the consortium's third chief executive, after Frenchman Philippe Collin-Delavaud and Manu Sawhney.
The current menu is not good enough and I hope Mr Oon gets it.
Recently, there have been announcements that Japan will host a glamour rugby Test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies next year and that Kuala Lumpur will see Manny Pacquiao's latest world boxing challenge in July. These two contests would have been a hit at our Sports Hub.
We have also learnt that the Indoor Stadium will host the WTA Finals for the final time this year after Shenzhen fended off Singapore's extension bid .
The initial four-year deal to host a leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series will end next year and Mr Oon and his team, Rugby Singapore, and their local partners are anxiously waiting to find out if their bid for an extension will be successful.
This year's International Champions Cup from July 26 to July 30 will feature top clubs Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Paris St Germain but these half-paced pre-season jousts, regularly shorn of stars, are no longer able to fill the National Stadium because local fans are increasingly savvy over the quality of such football games.
As we wait for the development of a national football team worthy of support, the Sports Hub's sole marketing agent, media conglomerate Lagardere, Global Spectrum Pico, and MP & Silva, which struck a much-hyped $25 million six-year partnership with the Football Association of Singapore in 2015, need to think up strategies to woo local fans.
Maybe there could be a new Asean Under-19 tournament?
Surely ticket prices for events could be made cheaper and children, families and the elderly bussed in?
Or take a leaf out of the Singapore Grand Prix playbook and put on world-class acts alongside the main event.
How about pulling out the stops to have the new Athletics World Cup here next year?
Make all Lions' games free for this year's Suzuki Cup.
Next year, let's have a national schools' sports weekend at the Hub. Have trophies and prizes on offer for netball, tennis, football, cricket, track and field, rugby, beach volleyball, table tennis and every other competition the venue can pull off.
It will guarantee throngs of parents and teachers and thousands of students and student-athletes at the Kallang venue and it will be a fantastic opportunity for the Sports Hub to forge a link with them.
For all its engineering finery and enviable design, the Hub has yet to earn the public's trust.
It must become the beating heart of Singapore sport, and to do so, it has to serve up a regular diet of worthy events.
Otherwise, it will be a beautifully impressive edifice that is soulless.