The government has proposed to significantly reduce the number of seats of the Hong Kong Stadium and add an additional running track alongside other facilities so as to turn it into a community sports ground.

The Wan Chai District Council will discuss the proposal submitted by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) next week.

Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Stadium. Photo: GovHK.

The proposal said that the Hong Kong Stadium would become redundant once the Kai Tak Sports Park is completed in 2023. The new sports park will have a 50,000 seat main stadium.

“Large-scale sports events held at the Hong Kong Stadium will be moved to the Kai Tak Sports Park, largely decreasing the usage of the Hong Kong Stadium,” the LCSD said in a consultation paper to district councillors.

It proposed that the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium, opened in March 1994, should be turned into a 8,000 to 9,000-seat public sports ground that can hold football, rugby matches, and track and field competitions.

The new sports ground will be open to booking for track and field training and ball games. Residents will be allowed to run on the track when there are no large-scale events.

The LCSD also suggested that additional facilities will be added, including a meeting room, a media centre, a washroom, a changing room, a doping control room and first aid room. A public car park will also be added to provide more than 50 parking space for private cars, motorcycles, among others.

The LCSD cited government guidelines as saying that there should be one sports ground per 200,000 to 250,000 people, and thus there should be one more on Hong Kong Island.

“It is difficult to find land on the densely-populated Hong Kong Island to build a sports ground. If we can redevelop Hong Kong Stadium – in the heart of Hong Kong Island – into a public sports ground, it will satisfy needs of sports facilities of schools and communities of the Wan Chai and other Hong Kong Island districts, and sports competitions can be held,” it said.

Hong Kong Stadium Rugby
Rugby match at the Hong Kong Stadium. Photo: GovHK.

It added that large-scale community events can be held at the new sports ground.

The LCSD said it has consulted the Hong Kong Football Association, the Hong Kong Rugby Union, the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association and the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation, which all supported the proposal.

Wan Chai district councillor Clarisse Yeung said that the government has been trying to get rid of sports facilities in the district.

She cited a recent decision to turn two volleyball courts at Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay into a small activity centre.

“The redevelopment scale is getting bigger and bigger – it may replace the Wan Chai Sports Ground with the Hong Kong Stadium,” she said.

She said she will request Home Affairs Secretary Lau Kong-wah and Commissioner for Sports Yeung Tak-keung to attend the meeting next week to explain the proposal.

wan chai sports ground
Wan Chai Sports Ground. Photo: Google Street View.

In January 2017, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the Wan Chai Sports Ground will be turned into a new exhibition and convention site.

But the proposal has been rejected by Leung’s successor Carrie Lam, saying that the government will instead demolish and redevelop three government buildings next to the existing Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Hong Kong Football Association Vice-Chair Pui Kwan-kay said he welcomed the plan. “Hong Kong does not need two very large stadiums,” he said.

He said he believed the government will only redevelop the Hong Kong Stadium after the Kai Tak Sports Park is completed.

Football team Eastern Sports Club currently uses the Hong Kong Stadium as its home ground.

Peter Leung, director of Eastern, said he did not oppose the plan as it was common that fewer than 1,000 fans would attend a local football match.

Correction 23:45: The proposed capacity of the new Kai Tak stadium is 50,000, not 15,000 as previously stated.

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.