Poor playing pitches can 'kill' a stadium
The quality of playing surfaces for sports such as cricket and football has long been a major focus in Australia. Much time and resources have resulted in a science-based approach that consistently delivers among the best fields of play in the world at all our major sports venues. Several venues are right now undertaking a total remake and relaying of grass playing surfaces – not a cheap or logistically easy matter, but regarded by all as essential for the strength of our games and quality of playing venues.
It is a surprise, therefore, that new venues that have been built around Asia, most of which have taken many lessons from the established venues of Australia and indeed are often staffed by experienced Aussies, are struggling to maintain just mediocre let-alone good playing conditions. In some cases it has been lack of money being allocated, in others a poor approach to a proper system and management, while in yet others it seems the initial decisions were not well researched or reviewed.
Singapore: The poor state of the playing surface at Singapore’s new 55,000 seat National Stadium is causing both embarrassment and concern over the loss of events and has led to the cancellation of the New Zealand Maori rugby team’s 15 November match against Asia Pacific Dragons. Brazilian coach Dunga was also critical of the very sandy playing surface in advance of his team’s football friendly against Japan last month. Matches for the ASEAN Football Federation’s upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup have been moved to the much smaller Jalan Besar Stadium. Only Singapore's matches against Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar will be held at the National Stadium. Singapore is co-hosting the tournament with Vietnam, in late November.
Hong Kong: The much criticised playing surface at the Hong Kong (So Kon Po) Stadium is to be rebuilt next year. Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department will work with the Jockey Club to reconstruct the turf pitch – described as an “international embarrassment” after its poor state during fixtures last year – from April to September 2015. The reconstruction will remove the existing turf and soil, put down new layers of sand and turf and replace underground irrigation and drainage systems. The playing surface at the Stadium was described as a "killer pitch" by British media in July last year when it became sodden and muddy after days of torrential rain before the Barclays Asia Trophy soccer tournament and a Manchester United friendly match. Bald patches appeared in the centre of the field where grass had been kicked up.
New stadium plans for Hong Kong - The Hong Kong Government is to publicly fund its planned 50,000-seat sports stadium with a retractable roof, 5,000-seat sports ground and 4,000-seat indoor sports centre on the former Kai Tek airport site.
Having previously sought private funding for what will be the city's biggest sports complex – located within the Kai Tak development area private sector involvement will be restricted to the ongoing management of the facility
The controversial sports venue will take up 28.2 hectares – roughly 8% of the whole development and will cost HK$23 billion (US$2.9 billion). Construction is planned to begin in mid-2016 and be completed by 2020.