Sports Hub set to cut ties with Global Spectrum Pico
Equity partner Global Spectrum Pico set to leave $1.33b consortium
It was supposed to be the epicentre of sport in Singapore, with regular events reverberating in world-class facilities, including a state-of-the-art 55,000-capacity National Stadium.
But, since its opening in mid-2014, the Singapore Sports Hub has had to weather some storms, from a substandard pitch and a leaking roof at the National Stadium to disputes over venue rental costs and key staff departures.
Now, the $1.33 billion facility may face its biggest challenge, yet.
The New Paper understands that Global Spectrum Pico (GSP), one of the four equity partners in the public-private-partnership (PPP) project, is set to leave the consortium.
SportsHub Pte Ltd, which is made up of majority equity partner InfraRed Capital Partners, Dragages Singapore, DTZ Facilities & Engineering (S) Limited and GSP, holds a 25-year contract with Sport Singapore to design, build, finance and operate the facility.
It is believed InfraRed met with GSP in the United States early this morning (Singapore time), with the intention of terminating the latter's role as the Hub's venue operation partner.
GSP is responsible for securing content for the Sports Hub and market the facility locally and overseas.
Pico is a local event agency and Global Spectrum is part of American sports and entertainment company Comcast Spectacor group.
In response to queries yesterday, the Sports Hub declined to comment on any impending change, citing their "obligations of confidentiality with our partners" and stating that the review process on "aspects of the operations" is still "ongoing".
In the statement, Sports Hub chairman Mark Woodhams said: "This review is about improving operational efficiency by eliminating complexity and improving the effectiveness of processes and communication; it is categorically not about reducing headcount.
"As part of the normal course of business, we regularly conduct periodic internal and external reviews, with a view to evolve the standards of our service delivery...
"Over the 25-year life of the project, it has always been envisaged that there would be continuous improvements that could be implemented to ensure best operational practice."
It is believed that if GSP leaves the consortium, then the Sports Hub will handle the role of procuring events internally, following restructuring of the Hub staff and operations.
In a statement sent to the Straits Times last night, Comcast Spectacor's president and chief executive Dave Scott said that "no wrongdoing nor contractual breach can be established" and we "resent any implications to the contrary".
"We are confident that as this matter unfolds the focus will be upon our excellent performance as opposed to baseless allegations," he added.
The latest development follows the departure of Mark Collins and Daphne Letournel, Global Spectrum's managing director and director of contracts and compliance respectively, last December, as speculation mounted that some senior staff disagreed with the strategy of the new management.
There will be question marks over the more than 100 staff working for GSP at the Sports Hub, if there is a split from the consortium.
The Sports Hub made headlines when Italian football giants Juventus slammed the poor pitch at the National Stadium, after a friendly against a Singapore Selection side in August 2014.
The original Desso GrassMaster turf was eventually replaced with the current lay-and-play system.
Mandopop superstar Jay Chou's rain-hit concert in the 55,000-seater stadium in December 2014 was also affected by a leaky roof.
In the past few months, the Hub reached an impasse in talks with the organisers of the National Day Parade and the Asia Masters Athletics Championships over venue costs, before they were eventually resolved.
In the statement yesterday, Woodhams said: "We are committed to delivering a vibrant and dynamic Sports Hub through a calendar of international, regional, national and schools events, as well as comprehensive community engagement programmes.
"The full Sports Hub team is fully dedicated to delivering on this strategy. We do not envisage any material changes to our staffing needs to continue to provide our services and deliver on our strategy."
In response to media queries, a Sport Singapore spokesman said: "SportSG is aware that SHPL is reviewing its operations. We will continue to require that the terms and conditions of the Project Agreement are met."