The move to build a mega sports park in Kai Tak was given its first green light today as the Hong Kong Legislative Council’s public works committee approved it by a tiny margin, despite the government’s insistence on a controversial “bidding incentive proposal”.
Eighteen lawmakers voted for the proposal and 17 voted against it. The government will now put the proposal to the Legco’s finance committee and seek approval for HK$31.9 billion in funding.
Several lawmakers tabled motions to amend the proposal but they were all voted down.
The project is considered controversial because of how the government is planning to invite bids for the project.
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The government will pay for the construction of the park, but a bid winner from the private sector will design, build and operate it under a 25-year contract. Construction is expected to be completed by 2022.
Each of the unsuccessful bidders will receive HK$60 million, or 50 per cent of the actual cost incurred in the preparation of the bid, whichever is lower, with the government taking ownership of the intellectual property of their designs in return. This is to ensure there will be enough bidders.
Due to how complex the project is, the government has said it will “prequalify” a maximum of four bidders. This means the total amount for the bid incentive will be capped at HK$180 million.
Some lawmakers have suggested that the government should only use the “cashback” proposal if there aren’t enough bidders in the first round.
The planned 28-hectare facility on the site of the former airport includes a 50,000-seat stadium for sports and entertainment events, a 10,000-seat indoor arena, a 5,000-seat community sports ground, retail and dining space of some 57,000 square metres, a 3,000 square-metre ‘dining cove’, a hotel, offices, a bicycle track, public open spaces and more.
Professor Chung Pak-kwong, the head of the physical education department at Baptist University, told Young Post today that the park might help shape the city into a regional centre of sports and entertainment, as Hong Kong currently lacks a world-class multi-functional stadium.
“The park may help attract a lot of international sporting events [to the city]. The proposed stadium at the park will have a roof, unlike Hong Kong Stadium, and that can help reduce noise pollution. Because of that, concerts could be held there,” Chung said.
When asked whether he thought the park will become another white elephant like that of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Chung said the terminal lacked decent facilities, and had poor transport connections.
“Having good facilities is important when it comes to attracting visitors. The terminal had poor facilities. The park is different – it will have more hotels, shops and better transport,” he said.