The Hong Kong government has awarded the contract for the design, construction and operation of the long-awaited HK$29.993bn (£3.01bn/€3.34bn/$3.83bn) Kai Tak Sports Park project to a subsidiary of local property developer New World Development.

First mooted in 2005, Kai Tak Sports Park will centre on a new 50,000-seat stadium. The Kai Tak Sports Park Ltd entity is a subsidiary of New World Development and NWS Holdings established specifically for the project. Its project team comprises overseas and local experts including the likes of Populous, SMG and Lagardère Sports.

The South China Morning Post newspaper said New World landed the contract over mainland Chinese developer Guangzhou R&F Properties. The 25-year contract for Kai Tak Sports Park includes four to five years for design and construction and approximately 20 years of operation. The government will fund the construction cost of HK$29.993bn, while Kai Tak Sports Park Ltd is required to cover all operating costs and pay the government 3% of the gross income plus HK$1.724bn during the operation period.

A government spokesman said in a statement: “The Kai Tak Sports Park, occupying 28 hectares of land, is the government’s most important investment in sports infrastructure in recent decades. When completed, it will become the biggest sports venue in Hong Kong.”

The design by Kai Tak Sports Park Ltd consists of a covered Kai Tak Sports Avenue running in the north-south orientation as the main axis, connecting all key facilities of the Sports Park with the adjacent Station Square, Kai Tak MTR Station and Sung Wong Toi MTR Station and leading to the harbourfront promenade.

The focal point of the Sports Park is the 50,000-seat Main Stadium, with ‘Pearl of the Orient’ as its façade design theme. With a soundproof retractable roof and flexible pitch surface the Main Stadium has been targeted for hosting major football and rugby games. However, through the installation of separation drapes, stage setting and various equipment, it will also be suitable for staging entertainment and community events of a different nature and scale.

In addition, the Park will feature a 10,000-seat Indoor Sports Centre and 5,000-seat Public Sports Ground suitable for hosting school athletics meetings, athletics training and local football league games. It will also be open to the public free of charge for jogging and exercise.

The Kai Tak Sports Park will also provide large open space for the general public, with facilities such as outdoor ball courts, open lawn areas, children’s play areas and fitness stations. Other facilities in the precinct include a health and wellness centre, a bowling centre, retail, food and beverage outlets and around 850 parking spaces.

Various energy conservation and sustainability design features will be in place such as a photovoltaic system, roof greening, vertical greening and parking spaces with electric vehicle charging facilities. The project also plans to include smart city initiatives including an intelligent building management system, wi-fi hot spots, an indoor positioning system, an intelligent car park management system and mobile applications to facilitate precinct information, booking of facilities and wayfinding.

The government has said construction work will commence in the first quarter of 2019, with completion set for 2023. Following the initial revelations concerning the project back in 2005, it has had to overcome multiple challenges, most noticeably when the previous government proposed moving it to a new site at Lamma Island.

The government’s announcement has been met with cautious approval from a Hong Kong sports industry wary that the involvement of New World could result in more emphasis being placed on commercial exploitation, rather than sports benefits.

Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, told the Post: “We know it would be difficult to run only sports events in such a large-scale facility and that the operator needs to bring in commercial elements, but they must strike a balance so that sports will not be overlooked.”

Images: Kai Tak Sports Park