Sep 30, 2010
End of road for National Stadium
Demolition finally begins on 37-year-old arena after three-year delay
Demolition machines (above) starting to tear down the iconic 37-year-old stadium yesterday. The demolition works will be completed by March next year. The stadium, which hosted three SEA Games and 18 National Day Parades, will make way for the $1.33 billion Sports Hub, slated to open in April 2014. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
THE first slabs of concrete fell at the National Stadium yesterday, as construction of the long-awaited Singapore Sports Hub finally got under way.
Three years after the works were originally slated to begin and nine years after the idea was first mooted, four demolition machines set about tearing down the iconic 37-year-old stadium.
Delivering the cue for the demolition at the official ground-breaking ceremony yesterday was Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan.
He was joined by about 100 invited guests, many of whom were former local sports stars who enjoyed their heyday at the Kallang arena. Some, like former sprint queen Glory Barnabas, held back tears as the famous grey grandstand was reduced to rubble and dust.
'It was here that I beat the Burmese girl (Than Than) in a photo finish,' she recalled, referring to her women's 200m victory at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games. 'I feel a tinge of sadness, even though I know it's for the better.'
The stadium, which hosted three SEA Games and 18 National Day Parades, will make way for the $1.33 billion Sports Hub, slated to open in April 2014.
The centrepiece of the integrated facility is a 55,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof. Other key features include a 6,000-capacity indoor Aquatic Centre, a water sports centre, and 41,000 sq m of commercial space.
The project had been hit by repeated delays due to rising construction costs and financing constraints caused by the 2008 economic crisis.
Its completion date was pushed back four times - from this year to next year, 2012 and then 2013, before the current projected date of April 2014. The postponements meant that Singapore had to give up its hosting rights for the 2013 SEA Games.
But Singapore Sports Council chairman Alex Chan said the delays, while regrettable, gave the planners more time to improve on the Sports Hub's original design.
'The team sorted out a lot of the technical concepts and that's a big plus,' he said.
'It is my belief that we are in a much stronger shape, both from a design and concept standpoint and also (in terms of) the people who are backing the project (financially).'
The improvements include providing better access between buildings, enhancing the road network around the Sports Hub, and refining the design of the stadium's roof and retractable seats.
The Singapore Sports Hub Consortium (SSHC), which won the bid in 2007 to design, build and manage the facility, said yesterday that demolition works will be completed by March next year.
When the stadium opens its doors in 2014, a sports and entertainment festival lasting several weeks will be held to mark the occasion.
Thereafter, there will be a year-round series of events to keep the Sports Hub humming, and these may include an Asean Football League and Twenty20 cricket matches.
Said Mr Ludwig Reichhold, managing director of Dragages Singapore, which heads the SSHC: 'The old National Stadium was an icon in its own right - where many of Singapore's best memories were made.
'We can only aim to better this with the completion of what will be another national - and hopefully international - landmark, a place Singaporeans can look on with pride.'
Sep 30, 2010
New book chronicles history of 'Grand Old Dame'
IN ITS 37 years of service to Singapore, it was known affectionately as the Grand Old Dame. But those fretting at the prospect of losing a piece of history as the National Stadium makes way for the future need not worry.
Even as the first blocks of concrete fell from its grey walls yesterday, its memories have been immortalised in the book The Dream Lives On.
It was launched during yesterday's ground-breaking ceremony for the much-anticipated Singapore Sports Hub.
Built in 1973 to the tune of $50 million, the national icon, which has hosted 18 National Day Parades and countless events in the past, has been captured in vivid detail by the book's author, Mr Godfrey Robert.
Said Mr Robert, 63, a former sports editor of The Straits Times who is currently The New Paper's consulting editor (sports): 'When I was approached to write the book, I gladly accepted it because I wanted to tell the stories from my heart... it was written with a sporting passion, not just from a spectator's point of view but also as participant in some of its activities.'
The coffee table book also chronicles the lives of sporting stars who have graced its hallowed premises, including 1960 Olympic silver medallist Tan Howe Liang and Singapore's favourite footballing son, Fandi Ahmad. Priced at $20, the book will be on sale at selected Singapore Sports Council sports and recreation centres.
LEE MIN KOK