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Hong Kong Stadium faces year-long closure for pitch renovation

Hong Kong Stadium faces year-long closure for pitch renovation
February 3, 2014

The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) is hoping to convince the Hong Kong Government to consider alternatives to closing down Hong Kong Stadium for up to a year in order to reconstruct the pitch.

The Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs the So Kon Po facility, plans to replace the trouble-plagued turf once and for all, with construction work pencilled in for March 2015 after the Rugby Sevens and the HK$100 million project taking 10 to 12 months to complete.

However, HKFA officials are concerned at the length of the project and the planned schedule - with no FIFA World Cup or European Championship during the summer of 2015, the period is expected to be a perfect time to attract big-name European teams for lucrative tour matches.

Ken Ng Kin, a member of the HKFA board and President of Hong Kong club Kitchee told the South China Morning Post "we can't see any pressing need to close down the stadium for pitch reconstruction as the new Kai Tak Stadium project is due to open in 2019.

"They can still continue their maintenance at Hong Kong Stadium to keep it open as it's just a few more years before a new stadium is available.

"Even if they decide to go ahead with the project, they could consider other options, which could reduce the construction time and affect the sport less."

HKFA Chief Executive Mark Sutcliffe added "(we know) that it is not possible to repair the existing playing surface and that the whole pitch needs to be reconstructed, (but) there is no final agreement on the new playing surface and all options need to be evaluated.

"2015 would not be a good year (to replace the surface) from soccer's perspective ... we have already had interest from top European teams to come to Hong Kong that year."

Ng said the HKFA had studied a new artificial pitch which was of a high quality and required only four to six weeks to construct.

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