High time we homed in on HK Stadium

Editorial | Mary Ma 8 Jan 2019

The sports and education sectors were overjoyed to hear home affairs secretary Ray Lau Kong-wah saying the Wan Chai Sports Ground would be spared, even though the Hong Kong Stadium in So Kon Po is doomed to be downgraded into a local sports ground after the sports park in Kai Tak is built.

They may gave "good" reasons to be joyful because Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had said only a year ago that the Wan Chai facility would be demolished eventually -- if not immediately -- to pave way to more pricey development.

Was Lau's recent assurance a slap in Lam's face? Not necessarily since nothing is static in politics. So, don't take the assurance too seriously for, should circumstances arise, all decisions are subject to change.

Always bear in mind that Lau assured the government didn't have any plan to redevelop the Wan Chai Sports Ground for the time being. Doesn't it mean it may still have to go when the time comes for the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre to expand further?

By the way, if the government-run stadium on Tonnochy Road, primarily used by local schools for sports days and other athletic activities, is to stay for good, Wan Chai would probably be the only local district to have two sports grounds of that size, with the other being the Hong Kong Stadium due to be downgraded.

It's debatable whether Wan Chai actually needs two large sports grounds. If it's good news for Wan Chai -- as asserted by the home affairs secretary -- would it not be as good news for the SAR as a whole? It's all about how public resources are expected to be utilized.

In a TV interview, Lam was proud to say her decision to de-link the prices of subsidized homes from the market was the boldest step taken by the government in decades. While that was probably true, here comes a new opportunity for her to make another gutsy move.

If Wan Chai Sports Ground is to be saved for good, wouldn't it be sensible to redevelop Hong Kong Stadium not that far away into homes for thousands of families?

If land is so scarce in the city, the stadium's main field alone boasts a size of 7,140 square meters, not including the 40,000 seats around it. It's amazing the Land Supply Task Force headed by Stanley Wong Yuen-fai missed this prime plot of land, while not failing to include the Fan Ling golf course in its lengthy report.

What Lau has been assuring Wan Chai apparently doesn't constitute good sense. Could the assurance have been made out of need and meant to be temporary?

While his comments on the future of Hong Kong Stadium were specific and tied to the Kai Tak Sports Park development, they were relatively vague when he mentioned the Wan Chai Sports Ground.

Yes, folks, be happy while you can.

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