Sports Hub looks forward to 2021
Organisers make provisional bookings for next year, as Hub puts in place safety protocols for large-scale activities
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic rendering large-scale sporting events and concerts unfeasible, the Singapore Sports Hub is still receiving tentative venue bookings for next year.
The last large-scale concert at the National Stadium was Jay Chou's in January while, in the sporting context, Brazil played friendlies against Nigeria and Senegal at the same venue last October.
The coronavirus, however, has caused major events like the Singapore legs of the International Champions Cup and World Rugby Sevens to be cancelled, resulting in event attendances at the Sports Hub falling 85 per cent from January to June, as compared to the same period last year.
Instead, the Sports Hub currently hosts more than 2,000 foreign workers, who live in temporary quarters at the National Stadium and OCBC Arena as part of the Government's efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 at migrant worker dormitories.
Lionel Yeo, the chief executive of Sports Hub Pte Ltd, the consortium that manages the $1.33 billion Sports Hub facility at Kallang, said he did not know when normal service would resume. But he highlighted that there remains a keen demand for the venue, even in these unprecedented times.
"I would agree that 2021 is unlikely to look like 2019. It doesn't mean that it will be as quiet as 2020," said the 47-year-old former Singapore Tourism Board head, who became SHPL's fourth CEO since 2011 in February.
"We are fielding a lot of interest actually from (international) hirers, who have provisionally made bookings in our calendar for 2021... There is interest on the part of both sports and non-sports event organisers...
"Now, whether they can go ahead when the month rolls around, we all don't know, because we're living in a period of uncertainty.
"So, it might be that we could have some of those international content in 2021."
Yeo declined to reveal details about the foreign event organisers who have made bookings or enquiries. Sports Hub's website lists dates next year for the Singapore Rugby Sevens as well as concerts by Yoga Lin, Mayday and Green Day.
Sandwiched between the eventual return of foreign sports and entertainment stars and the Sports Hub's current priority of contributing to national efforts to combat the coronavirus via providing temporary migrant worker housing is a pivot towards local content.
Said Yeo: "There'll probably be more local content, both on the sports as well as the non-sports side. We are planning some of those things in readiness for further opening up at the national level...
"For example... we are in conversations with NSAs (national sports associations) to develop what we call the Sports Hub Sports Series.
"We're not ready today to give you details about that yet, but essentially it is... providing opportunities for Singaporeans to engage in those sports.
"We are also looking at the... lifestyle and entertainment side. What is it that we can feature to bring vibrancy and life to the precinct. We have a lot of talent locally, which we can and will be happy to feature."
Yeo added that the Sports Hub is "uniquely positioned to be able to offer an operational template that allows us to host reasonably large-scale events safely".
He explained that the National Stadium would be able to host events attended by a "few thousand people" by segregating the venue into self-contained zones with their own entry and exit points, toilets and food & beverage outlet.
Said Yeo: "So you're attending an event with (a) few thousand people, potentially, but you're really mingling at most with only 100.
"Now, is that something which the authorities will be prepared to say, 'All right, let's do it'. That's the conversations we've been having."