The National Stadium of Singapore was officially opened on 21 July 1973 by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. For over three decades, it was used for many major sporting, cultural, entertainment and social events, such as the 1983 and 1993 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the second-leg final of the 2004 Tiger Cup, and the concerts of popular singers like Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and A*Mei. It was also the venue for 18 National Day Parades. This national icon was officially closed on 30 June 2007 to make way for the new Singapore Sports Hub. However, due to delays in the project, the life of the National Stadium was subsequently extended.
As Singapore moved towards independence after the end of World War II, a respectable sports stadium for national and international events was deemed crucial for national pride. The only proper stadium in the late 1940s was the Jalan Besar Stadium. The search for possible sites to build the new stadium began in the 1950s. Kallang Park was selected because of existing sports facilities such as the Badminton Hall in the immediate vicinity.
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, Othman Wok, then minister for social affairs and culture, campaigned for the substantial funds needed to get the plans off the ground. He believed that good sports facilities were needed to spur the people's interest in sports and improve the fitness of youths, especially because most of the National Servicemen recruited at the time were considered to be lacking in strength.
Singapore Pools, a private lottery company owned by the Ministry of Finance, was set up in 1968 to raise funds for the stadium. Proceeds from lottery games Singapore Sweep and TOTO were used to pay for a substantial part of the construction.
The 7th Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games of September 1973 was the first major event held at the National Stadium. In the years that followed, the stadium witnessed the patriotic phenomenon dubbed the "Kallang Roar", the cheering and shouting of the national football team's supporters whenever it played against visiting teams.
The $50 million National Stadium had an eight-lane running track and a football field. There were also other facilities – such as table-tennis tables, a weights room and an auditorium – housed in the large spaces under the spectator stands. To accommodate large crowds, there were parking lots for more than 4,000 cars and 100 motorcycles.
In 2005, the government announced that the National Stadium would be redeveloped in a project to create an integrated cluster of world-class sporting facilities known as the Singapore Sports Hub. On 30 June 2007, a closing ceremony titled "Field of Dreams – A Tribute to the National Stadium" was held at the stadium. Some 45,000 people attended the event together with the guest-of-honour, Singapore's then president S. R. Nathan, cabinet members and hundreds of national athletes.
The Sports Hub was scheduled for completion in 2010 when its plans were first announced. However, the project encountered several delays. As a result, the life of the National Stadium was extended, and the home legs of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semi-finals were played in the stadium in 2008.
The Singapore Sports Hub, which cost $1.3 billion to build, began operations on 30 June 2014. The 35 ha (350,000 sq m) site houses the new 55,000-seat National Stadium, an aquatic centre, a sports museum, retail space, the Singapore Indoor Stadium and a library, among other world-class facilities. The official opening ceremony will take place in 2015, and the 27th Southeast Asian Games will be held at the Sports Hub in the same year.
7 Dec 1966: Piling began.
23 Feb 1970: Then minister for finance Dr Goh Keng Swee laid the foundation stone and a time capsule was sealed.
17 Jun 1973: First event held at the stadium was an international hockey friendly between Singapore and Australia.
24 Jun 1973: First football match was the Sultan's Gold Cup final between Singapore Malays and Kelantan Malays.
21 Jul 1973: Official opening ceremony.
1–8 Sep 1973: 7th SEAP Games.
17 Sep 1973: Practice track and tennis courts were opened to the public.
24 Oct 1973: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali fought in a five-round exhibition bout.
28 Jan 1976: Then Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos visited the stadium.
9 Aug 1976: The stadium hosted its first National Day Parade.
13 May 1977: A mass stampede occurred at the ticketing booths before the Malaysia Cup final between Singapore and Selangor. One man died from a heart attack and 44 others were injured.
28 May–6 Jun 1983: 12th SEA Games.
20 Nov 1986: Pope John Paul II conducted mass at the stadium during his first visit to Singapore.
12–20 Jun 1993: 17th SEA Games.
1 Apr 1996: S-League was officially launched at the stadium.
Sep 1996: Inaugural Tiger Cup.
31 Oct 1998: Plate final of the Standard Chartered Asian Rugby Championships - Singapore won its first international rugby union trophy.
1 Feb 2001: Fire broke out at a media room above the grandstand and destroyed the commentator booths.
16, 24 Jul 2001: Courts Cup matches between Team Singapore and English football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United.
24 Jul 2002: Main stage set up for the National Day Parade caught fire due to an electrical fault.
16 Jan 2005: Second leg of the Tiger Cup final - Singapore clinched the trophy.
9 Aug 2006: The stadium hosted its last National Day Parade.
4 Feb 2007: Second leg of the ASEAN Football Championship (formerly Tiger Cup) final - Singapore won its third title.
3 May–30 Jun 2007: Singapore Sports Council conducted free "farewell" tours of the stadium.
30 Jun 2007: Official closing ceremony.
3 Apr 2008: Sports Council announced that the stadium would host at least two more football games, due to delays in the construction of the Sports Hub.
28 Jul 2008: A football friendly between the Brazil Olympic Team and a Singapore selection.
21 Dec 2008: Semi-final of the AFF Suzuki Cup (also known as the ASEAN Football Championship).
25 August 2010: Construction of Sports Hub officially began.
30 June 2014: National Stadium reopens as part of Sports Hub.
Tan Seo Yean
Chua, C. J. (c1998). A nation at play: 25 years of the Singapore Sports Council. Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 796.095957 NAT)
Lim, L. (2008, April 3). National Stadium to host 2 more games. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
Lim, L. (2008, June 17). Sports Hub may now be ready only by 2012. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
Lim, L. (2008, October 12). Sports Hub completion date: 2012. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
Lim, L., & Wang, J. (2008, January 20). The dome picked for Sports Hub. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
MediaCorp TV. (n.d). The grand dame of Kallang. Retrieved from MediaCorp TV website: http://archive5.mediacorptv.sg/shows/specials/view/1543/1/.html
National Stadium safe for all sports events despite fire. (2001, February 3). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.
Singapore Pools. (n.d). The beginning of the National Stadium. Retrieved from Singapore Pools website: http://www.singaporepools.com.sg/jsp/corporate/corporate_nationalstad.jsp
Stadium memories: 1973-1990. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
Stadium memories: 1991-2007. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973. . Singapore: National Stadium.
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Wang, J. (2008, February 16). Everything's for sale - except the stadium. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis.
Lim, L. (2010, August 26). Sports Hub deal sealed. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
Chua, S. Y., & Toh, T. W. (2014, June 21). Game on, all systems go at National Stadium. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
Tien, C. P., Tay, C. H., Chng, C. H., & Lyn, B. (2014, February 27). Under one roof: Take a sneak peek at the Singapore Sports Hub. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
Huang, H. (2009, February 8). National Stadium back in business. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
Kor, K. B. (2009, February 4). Sports Hub has problems raising funds. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
The information in this article is valid as at 11 September 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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