Photo of Sports Hub during NDP Preview from MCCY

Exodus at $4 billion Singapore Sports Hub continues

By Kannan Raj

The exodus of senior management personnel at the Singapore Sports Hub seems to be continuing.

The Online Citizen (TOC) has discovered that over the last few weeks, more members of the senior management have left or are in the process of leaving the Singapore Sports Hub.

Among those who are leaving include Mr Rob Abernethy, who is the deputy managing director of Global Spectrum, one of the consortium’s key partners.

His acting managing director Mr Jason Hrick, who took over from Mark Collins who himself left at the end of December, has also quit the project altogether. It is not known if Mr Hrick has returned back to the United States or if he has found another role in Singapore.

Also out the Singapore Sports Hub door is Sam Eatwell, the project’s Communications Manager who has been with the project for more than three years. And only a month ago, Eugene Lee, the Sports Hub’s Director of Marketing also quit from Sports Hub. Mr Daniel Teo, who was a Director of Facility Management of yet another Sports Hub consortium partner Cushman and Wakefield, also left in July 2016. Also out are the Sports Hub’s Design Director Hendra Chong, and Daphne Chew, its social media and marketing manager.

An insider and current staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that these departures reflect the continued state of unhappiness within the project and the current leadership.

“There is no vision for the project and no one seems to know where the project is headed to. There is no event strategy, community engagement strategy or any kind of strategy. When there is no vision from the management, it will be hard for staff to feel motivated.”

The project’s Chief Executive Officer is Manu Sawhney. who took over from predecessor Philippe-Colin Delavaud in October last year.

Since taking over as CEO, and as TOC had previously stated in a previous article published in June 2016, no vision for the project has been relayed to the public over the plans for the project.

A national embarrassment, the Government through the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth pays $193.7m to the Singapore Sports Hub operators on an annual basis, subject to inflation. The Government made this disclosure in Parliament in February this year, in response to a parliamentary question by Workers Party MP Sylvia Lim.

With the Government is paying the consortium $193.7 million a year over 25 years, the amount which taxpayers would be paying the consortium over 25 years would exceed $4 billion, and not $1.33 billion which is often used in media articles.

The Singapore Sports Hub has continued to remain in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Embarrassingly, during the National Day Parade on 9 August, the national flag did not project on the roof during the pledge taking. The organisers of the National Day Parade investigated the cause of the glitch and in a joint statement with the Sports Hub, blamed the problem on a software glitch. This led to netizens mocking the project, saying: “Pitch got problem. Acoustics got problem. Now software also got problem.”

Sponsors of the project will also want to question if they are getting their money’s worth by investing in the project due to a lack of events at the National Stadium.

During the announcement of the winning bid in 2008, the public was made to believe that there would be at least 90 event days at the National Stadium and 46 event days at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. This announcement was made by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who was Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports at the time.

This year, there have only been a handful of events which have come and gone which include the Rugby 7s, a football match involving Tampines Rovers and Selangor and an upcoming match between Singapore and Malaysia, among very few.

The current state of affairs at the Singapore Sports Hub is nothing short of an embarrassment and it is only right for the leadership of the Singapore Sports Hub address the issues at hand, for the sake of the public, its investors and sponsors, with its vision and strategy being the first items which should be made public.