From my apartment balcony, I have a great view of the National Stadium in Singapore. So far, I have managed to catch events there for three different occasions. We sang along for Maroon 5, watched the Japan Sunwolves in one of their exhibition games and cheered on Canada in the Singapore Rugby Sevens.
The National Stadium itself is fantastic – it can hold 55,000 people, it has the world’s largest retractable dome (sorry, Toronto) and it’s even air-conditioned (via cool air running through pipes below the seats). However, I had heard about some controversies with the stadium and going to these events made me want to dig in and learn more.
The stadium was constructed in place of an older stadium that had been operational since 1973. It officially opened in 2014 at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion. It was built and financed and now operates as a public-private partnership.
The operating costs of the stadium are said to be so prohibitive that the government hasn’t been able to use it for some of the events that it was initially constructed to host (such as the National Day parade). High costs have meant that private events have moved to other venues (sometimes outside of Singapore) where the hosting economics are more reasonable. Some suite owners have even sued the management company – claiming that the number of events hosted annually (that they would be able to use their suite for) is fewer than what was promised.
This may have been a bigger scandal at home, but it’s quite difficult to find information online (more on the press in Singapore later!). In any case, I am looking forward to attending more events (when they are available!) and hearing more about how things actually work.