The government plans to submit a funding proposal for the Kai Tak Sports Park to the Legislative Council next year, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said. The project promises to be the largest sports infrastructure project in Hong Kong’s history.

Leung announced the news in a blog post published on Tuesday, when a public consultation on the project ended. The project, which will span 28 hectares, will likely feature multi-purpose sports venues, a landscaped park, a sports-themed shopping centre, a health and wellness centre, office space and a hotel.

“The construction of the Kai Tak Sports Park proves that the government and I value the sports sector and promotion of sports across society,” Leung said.

Kai Tak Leung Chun-ying
Simulation of Kai Tak Sports Park; Leung Chun-ying. Photo: GovHK.

Leung courted controversy in October 2014 when he used the sports sector as an example of “balanced participation” in the Chief Executive election committee. He said that the sector did not make any economic contribution to the city, but they were allocated seats in the committee.

HK$25bn estimate

The project is to be located at the former Kai Tak airport in Kowloon City. The latest schedule suggested that it may be completed as early as 2022. An estimation of cost made by the Home Affairs Bureau in September 2014 was HK$25 billion, which will likely be increased when the government applies for funding.

Claiming to be a “Sports Park for the People of Hong Kong” on its website, the project was part of Leung’s election platform when he ran for Chief Executive in 2012.

Leung once instructed the Development Bureau to review the planning of the site, suggesting that it could be used for residential units due to a shortage of housing land, but such plans were opposed by the sports sector and the former Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing. Tsang “retired” last year, sparking rumours that he did not work well with Leung.

Kai Tak Sports Park
Part of the master layout plan of the Kai Tak Sports Park. Photo: GovHK.

A HK$62.7 million preliminary funding proposal for the project was passed in May last year by the Public Works Subcommittee of the Legislative Council by 21 to 14. Only three pan-democratic lawmakers voted “yes”, whilst 14 members of the camp voted “no” as many questioned whether the project would become an under-utilised “white elephant”.

Leung said in the blog post that the multi-purpose sports venues will allow the hosting of major international sports events, and provide Hong Kong’s athletes with more opportunities to compete at a home venue with players from other parts of the world.

They will also provide many facilities for professional and amateur athletes as well as members of the public to enjoy, he added.

He also gave details of the venues in the blog post, including a stadium with a capacity of around 50,000 for events such as international football and rugby matches, leisure and entertainment events and other uses such as concerts, carnivals and large community events.

Other sports related facilities include a 5,000-seat public sports ground for hosting school athletic events, athletics training and local football matches; a multi-purpose indoor sports centre with 7,000 seats; and a seven-hectare landscaped park for the public to relax in, or enjoy outdoor exercise.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.