Face Off: Should Wan Chai Sports Ground be demolished so the neighbouring Convention and Exhibition Centre can be extended?

Face Off: Should Wan Chai Sports Ground be demolished so the neighbouring Convention and Exhibition Centre can be extended?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week’s topic is ...


Wan Chai Sports Ground is planned to be demolished in 2019.
Photo: Xiaomei Chen/SCMP

Tacye Hong, 19, University of Toronto

Plans to demolish Wan Chai Sports Ground have been around since November 2012. And after more than four years, you’d think that Hong Kong citizens would be ready to accept the decision and move on. I guess not. I understand the memories that a sports ground holds for people, but change is necessary for growth. To increase Hong Kong’s competitiveness, it is high time that the Wan Chai Sports Ground is knocked down so that the Convention and Exhibition Centre can be extended.

According to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the land won’t just be an extension though; it will have extra sports facilities. So really, it’s not like athletes will miss out. While some people argue that the idea is a waste of taxpayers’ money, I’d like to point out that it’s actually a good thing in the long run. It will create more jobs and boost the economy.

Hong Kong prides itself on being an international city but its position in the world is slowly slipping. Look at how many international conferences are held in neighbouring countries. Extending the Convention and Exhibition Centre will lead to modern, large-scale meeting rooms and auditoriums, fully equipped with the latest technology, including multilingual translation systems. These are the sort of facilities that Hong Kong needs to re-establish its status as “Asia’s World City”.

And if you think that once the Wan Chai Sports Ground is demolished, there won’t be a decent place in the city for school sports events to be held – stop worrying. The Hong Kong Stadium, in So Kon Po, is a great substitute. The stadium is mainly being used to host major events like international football games and rugby tournaments like the Hong Kong Sevens, but the government has plans to redevelop it. That means school events could be held there, too. Then there’s the Kai Tak Sports Hub, which will be built at the former site of the Kai Tak Airport.

There are so many places in Hong Kong that can be used for sports. I believe the Wan Chai Sports Ground has been built on land that is desperately needed for development.

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Cedric Li, 17, Sha Tin College

We should not assume that formulating public policies is an easy task; governments have to juggle many competing interests and objectives with a limited amount of resources. However, it does feel like the SAR government is fast becoming a one-trick pony. When faced with a dilemma, they simply adopt a proposal that will either benefit the financial services sector, or encourage the city’s tourism industry.

Alright, these things are certainly important, but the government seems to have forgotten about the welfare of its citizens. Major issues like public housing, unemployment, retirement benefits, and yes, sports and recreation facilities, have all been passed over time and again for more “pressing” matters.

Sure, it would be nice for Hong Kong to have a bigger and showier Convention and Exhibition Centre, but only large corporations would benefit from such an expansion.

The Wan Chai Sports Ground is not just a sports facility. As almost everyone knows, it hosts many important sports events, such as the Division One Inter-school Athletics Competition – the Super Bowl of Hong Kong athletics. It’s the place where every budding athlete in Hong Kong who dreams of bringing glory to their schools display their skills. It’s what drives students to train harder, so that they can experience the thrill of victory in a world-class stadium.

The plan to demolish the sports ground will disappoint those who have experienced joy, relief, or even disappointment there. It will discourage an already dwindling number of prospective athletes from taking up sports, and upset many more who are already frustrated with the government.

I watched La La Land a few days ago, and amid the singing and dancing, one message really stood out – don’t ever take things for granted. Perhaps the government’s policymakers ought to watch the movie before they decide to get rid of the city’s symbol of sporting ambition.

Edited by Ginny Wong


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