*[Update: Nov. 27] Sports Hub Pte Ltd sent a love letter to the media saying: "Sports Hub Private Limited is still studying several options and no decision has yet been made on a longer term pitch solution at the National Stadium. We are fully committed to finding a robust natural pitch solution, including for the upcoming 28th SEA Games. The costs incurred in providing a robust solution are fully borne by SHPL. We will continue to look at all options that will allow us to host a wide range of events we plan to stage at this multipurpose sports and entertainment venue."
Today had just reported on the biggest and most expensive own goal scored by the Singapore football fraternity.
The National Stadium's much maligned natural grass pitch will be replaced by a synthetic surface - the original surface that the good folks from Sports Hub Pte Ltd (SHPL) initially considered but eventually decided against.
After splashing $800,000 on the pitch - made by Desso GrassMaster, famous for constructing pitches for elite football teams Real Madrid and Manchester United - and using the $1.5 million lighting equipment to try to grow the pitch, SHPL has decided to throw in the towel.
And done in record time too: This is just less than six months after the opening of the new stadium.
Although the cost will be borne by SHPL, you would think an organisation would be more patient, especially after spending millions on a pitch.
And this is not inclusive of the costs that SHPL had already incurred from the cancellation and postponement of events and concerts.
Today also wrote that natural grass can be installed on top of the artificial pitch for sports promoters who insist on playing on natural grass.
SHPL chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said:
“We are exploring several pitch solutions that can cater to our multipurpose sports and entertainment calendar at the National Stadium. More details will be released at a later date.”
Is there a plan in the first place?
So now we know that natural grass can be installed on top of the artificial pitch. Why not stick with artificial in the first place when it is known that both sporting and non-sporting events will be held at the National Stadium?
And why decide on the Desso GrassMaster pitch in the end? Is it just a case of going for the best pitch so that the stadium can be mentioned in the same breath as Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and other top class football stadiums? If so, then it should be purely a stadium for sports and not, as Baihakki Khaizan put it, a stadium for concerts.
A disastrous timeline
June 2014: Officially opened on June 30.
Check out how sandy the pitch already was, when MCCY Minister Lawrence Wong visited the pitch in June (Source)
Hosted the Singapore Chinese Orchestra two days earlier.
August 2014: Hosted Italian football club Juventus. The team's coach Massimiliano Allegri said after the match that he didn’t field striker Carlos Tevez because of the sandy pitch.
October 2014: The month that s*** really hit the fan.
Oct. 12: National footballer Baihakki Khaizan slammed the stadium, giving it the hashtag #stadiumforconcerts.
Read the story here
Oct.14: Japan and Brazil played an international friendly match at the stadium.
Many of the football experts criticized the pitch. Brazilian coach Dunga said,“Most of it is sand, not grass … It’s going to be hard to pass the ball. There is more chance of getting injured in this field."
Oct.14: Pressure from the Asean Football Federation to clear the venue’s schedule for 15 working days before the AFF Suzuki Cup kicks off on Nov. 23.
Oct. 15: More pressure from the public to cancel some of the upcoming events before AFF Suzuki Cup. Sgag prank called Sports Hub.
Read the story here.
Oct. 17: Jay Chou's concert, originally slated to be on Nov. 8, will be postponed to Dec. 27.
Read the story here.
Oct. 21: The rugby match between All Blacks and Asia-Pacific Dragons is cancelled.
Oct. 24: Hosted American powerhouse Mariah Carey on the same pitch, just days after the friendly match. The stage had to be repositioned to enhance pitch recovery.
Nov.4: Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Lawrence Wong said in parliament that the Sports Hub "misjudged the impact an intensive events calendar would have on the pitch".
Nov.23: Lions lost 2-1 to Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup, but with a healthier looking pitch.
Adieu grass. You tried your best but someone didn't.
Top photo from Zainudin Nordin Facebook page.