Sports Hub for the people
Sports Hub will be free for public to book and use for a month from June 30
The Singapore Sports Hub has had to endure rain-inflicted delays, problems with the horizontal beams of its 55,000-seater centrepiece - the National Stadium - and even pitch issues that have threatened to derail its event schedule.
But it will take your breath away.
The plastic wrapping had still not been removed from some of the seats in the stadium, and there was a layer of fine cement dust on every surface, as is the case at any newly constructed facility but, with its retractable roof closed, the atmosphere inside the hub's crown jewel was surreal.
The incongruously arranged red and white seats fool the eye into seeing a crowd, and all at once, coax the mind to feel what can only be described as excitement.
The arena was bathed in the soft glow of natural light coming through the transcluscent material of the roof, but is not yet perfect.
A sliver of sunlight managed to steal into the arena yesterday, its presence on the still-patchy surface of the pitch a clear indication of roof louvres that failed to close perfectly.
And even when the Hub opens its doors - starting this weekend with the South-east Asian Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre - there will still be glitches.
"All big (new) stadiums are like that when they first open, no different from ours... and the message to Singaporeans is this, be patient with us, it will take a while... as we take time to debug," said Sports Hub's chief operating officer, Oon Jin Teik, who reiterated that the Hub was "was wholeheartedly designed for Singaporeans", not just for major sporting events.
Speaking on the sidelines of a media tour of the facility yesterday, Oon confirmed that the various facilities within the hub's 35 hectares will be free for the public to book and use for a month from June 30, with details to be revealed soon.
It may not be made for the sole purpose of big-time events, but make no mistake, there is quality throughout the facility, from its materials right down to the concept of its design.
It is constructed to utilise natural light, conserve energy and maximise land use, and yet has remained easy on the eye.
Speaking of "celebrating the stadium" and of its open design allowing the stadium to "talk to the city", Clive Lewis, the lead architect for the project, was initially not easy to understand.
But, as the media was guided through the Stadium Riverside Walk that presented unobstructed views of the city, and into the stadium, Lewis' ideas were immediately apparent.
It was not hard to imagine being immersed in the sporting action within the stadium, then catching a glance of the city skyline through the roof opening, and remembering that the sporting event is intertwined with the city of Singapore.
"In the old stadium, there was just one venue, and through events that (the people's) passion was ignited," said Oon.
"Now that the hardware is place, the programming comes in," he added, calling for patience, as well as feedback from the public when the facility starts its phased opening.
There are likely to be glitches to be fixed and kinks to be ironed out as the hub kicks into gear, but it wouldn't be hard to look past all that.
Just take a walk past its spacious waterfront, through its airy sports promenade, look at the stadium, and the stunning view of the Singapore skyline in the distance.
"This is built for Singaporeans," reiterated Oon.
"We hope many will come out and get a chance to play here."
This is built for Singaporeans. We hope many will come out and get a chance to play here.
- Sports Hub’s chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik