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Opening of the National Stadium 21st Jul 1973

The National Stadium was one of the most iconic buildings in Singapore. Opened on 21 July 1973 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the stadium was a venue for many sports, cultural and entertainment events such as the 1983 and 1993 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Malaysia Cup football matches, inter-constituency football tournaments, opening ceremonies of the Singapore Youth Festival and concerts of popular artistes. Perhaps the most notable usage of the National Stadium was for the nation’s national day parades (NDPs).[1] From the time of its opening to its official closure on 30 June 2007, the stadium had hosted 18 NDPs, with the first held on 9 August 1976.[2]

Before the opening of the National Stadium, Singapore had two stadiums, namely the 10,000-capcity Jalan Besar Stadium and the 3,000-capacity Anson Road Stadium.[3] In 1947, officials from various sports associations began planning for a new stadium of international standards.[4] However, there was little progress until1963 when a decision was made to build the stadium at Kallang.[5] Even then, the project failed to take off.[6] In December 1965, plans for a new stadium were revived when then Minister for Culture and Social Affairs Othman Wok proposed in parliament the construction of a proper national sports stadium as a means to boost sports promotion in the country.[7] Kallang remained as the site for the stadium because of its prime location and close proximity to other sports venues.[8]

The construction of the National Stadium took about six years from 7 December 1966 to June 1972.[9] Singapore Pools, owned by the Ministry of Finance, was set up in 1968 to raise the necessary funds, while the National Stadium Corporation (NSC) was established in 1971 to oversee the construction of the National Stadium.[10] The stadium was built at the cost of about S$50 million.[11] When it opened, the stadium was one of the best in Southeast Asia. Not only did it have a seating capacity of 50,000, it was also equipped with a 400-metre eight-lane synthetic track.[12] Other facilities at the stadium included six air-conditioned squash courts, eight tennis courts, a number of table tennis tables and a weights room.[13] The stadium also had an 8,400-square-metre air-conditioned exhibition area, state-of-the-art sound and floodlight systems, as well as electronic scoreboards.[14]

1. Robert, G. (2008). The dream lives on (pp. 5, 16). Singapore: Straits Times Press. Call no.: RSING 796.0685957 ROB.
2. Robert, 2008, p. 70.
3. Robert, 2008, p. 7; Anson Road area to be developed. (1947, September 9). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Sports officials want “Wembley” for Singapore. (1947, May 14). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Teo, E. T. (1963, June 3). In demand: A national stadium. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sam, J. (1963, June 26). Singapore to get $10 million National Stadium. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. National Stadium: Lee to announce plans. (1965, December 12). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary debates: Official report. (1965, December 23). Debate on annual budget statement (Vol. 24, col. 521). Singapore: Govt. Printer. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN.
8. Robert, 2008, p. 8.
9. To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973 (pp. 5–7). (1973). Singapore: National Stadium. Call no.: RSING 796.0685957 TO.
10. Robert, 2008, p. 11.
11. Chandran, R., & Fong, L. (1973, July 22). Our goal in sports: Mr. Lee. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973, 1973, p. 7.
13. To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973, 1973, p. 13.
14. To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973, 1973, p. 15.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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