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Mindful of competition Hong Kong needs new Kai Tak stadium
Competition from venues from across the Asia-Pacific region is underlining the importance of Hong Kong developing its Kai Tak Sports Park stadium.
Returning from the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 event at AT&T Park in San Francisco, USA, Hong Kong Rugby Union Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie explained that competition from better equipped and more modern venues highlights the deficiencies of the city’s So Kon Po Stadium.
McRobbie, who attended the San Francisco Sevens, said he was impressed at the three-day show at the 40,800-capacity AT&T Park - the home of baseball’s Giants, telling the South China Morning Post “we definitely need a new stadium.
“The entire sporting community in Hong Kong is looking forward to the Kai Tak Sports Hub.
“It will certainly provide us with an absolutely world-class sporting venue and an environment that will enable us to do a lot of stuff that is currently a bit of a struggle with the existing stadium.”
The HK$32 billion Kai Tak Sports Hub is scheduled for completion in 2022 and will feature a number of top-class sporting facilities including the showpiece 50,000-seater main stadium.
When asked if the atmosphere generated by the 100,000 fans who attended AT&T Park over the three day US event was comparable with that generated by the So Kon Po crowd in Hong Kong, McRobbie advised “the great thing is the entire sevens tournament community ... we all work well together and learn from each other and collectively raise the bar for each other.
“And I think USA Rugby, with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, notched the bar up again. We look forward to taking on that challenge and making sure the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens is again a fantastic event for spectators.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to San Francisco. They put on a fantastic show. There was a lot of US-style razzmatazz, which was great. And a lot of little things they did extremely well.”
While the Hong Kong Stadium generates a fantastic atmosphere thanks to its spectacular location nestled against a picturesque hill, facilities for players and spectators are limited.
McRobbie said San Francisco made the most of its expertise to provide fans with a memorable experience. The success of the tournament also provides a strong platform for the promotion and growth of rugby in the US.
He added “they did many things very well. Their World Cup app had lots of good stuff, using social media and fans being able to watch the speeds of players and referees as they ran around. The announcing and music was done very well as well as the hospitality.
“It was a wonderful event. I think as people look back, it will be a watershed moment for the sport in the United States in terms of growing the profile of rugby sevens and rugby more generally in North America.
“It was a great venue, a great crowd and great atmosphere and there were very good performances off the pitch and on the pitch as well.”
The next Hong Kong Sevens, the best known event in the World Sevens Series, will be held from 5th to 7th April 2019.
Click here to view the original article in the South China Morning Post.
Images: Artist's impression of the potential Kai Tak Sports Park stadium (top) and fans enjoy a previous Hong Kong Sevens (below).
1st February 2018 - Suppliers sought for Kai Tak Sports Park project
17th January 2018 - Tender documents released for Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Sports Park project
1st September 2017 - Six bids submitted for HK$32 billion Kai Tak Sports Park project
11th April 2017 - Hong Kong Sevens continues as the pinnacle of the Sevens World Series
12th August 2016 - Growing popularity of Rugby Sevens prompts demand for new venues
21st March 2015 - Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tickets in high demand
27th January 2014 - Hong Kong’s US$2.9 billion Kai Tak sports complex set for 2020 completion
17th November 2012 - Rugby Sevens’ popularity grows among women
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