National Stadium



The National Stadium of Singapore was officially opened on 21 July 1973 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.1 For over three decades, it was used for many major sporting, cultural, entertainment and social events, such as the 1983 and 1993 Southeast Asian Games, the second-leg final of the 2004 Tiger Cup,2 and concerts of popular singers like Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and A-Mei.3 The stadium was also the venue of 18 National Day Parades held between 1976 and 2006.4 An official closing ceremony was held on 30 June 2007 to commemorate its 34-year history.5

History
As Singapore moved towards independence after World War II, a respectable sports stadium for national and international events was deemed crucial for national pride. 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.6


After Singapore gained independence in 1965, then Minister for Culture and Social Affairs Othman Wok argued in parliament for an Olympic-standard stadium to be built in the country. He believed that good sports facilities were needed to spur people’s interest in sports and improve the fitness of youth, especially when most national servicemen recruited at the time were considered to be lacking in strength.7

Work on the National Stadium – with a seating capacity of 50,800 – began with Othman, who was also president of the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council, driving in the first pile for the stadium  on 7 December 1966.8

In 1968, state-owned lottery company Singapore Pools was set up to raise funds for building the stadium. Proceeds from lottery games, Singapore Sweep and TOTO were used to pay for a substantial part of the construction.9

The first major event held at the National Stadium was the 7th Southeast Asian Peninsular Games in September 1973.10 In the years that followed, the stadium witnessed the “Kallang Roar”, a patriotic phenomenon of cheering and shouting by supporters of the national football team whenever it played against visiting teams.11

Description
The S$50-million National Stadium had an eight-lane running track and a football field. Other facilities included table-tennis tables, a weights room and an auditorium, housed in the large spaces under the spectator stands.12


Closure
In 2001, 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. Free stadium tours and a slew of other activities were organised prior to the stadium’s closure.13


On 30 June 2007, a closing ceremony titled “Field of Dreams – A Tribute to the National Stadium” was held at the stadium.14 The guest-of-honour was  then President of Singapore S. R. Nathan. The event was attended by cabinet members, national athletes and some 45,000 people.15

When the plan to develop the Singapore Sports Hub was first announced, it was scheduled for completion in 2010. However, the project encountered several delays. As a result, the demolition of the National Stadium started only in September 2010. The home legs of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup semi-finals were played in the stadium in 2008.16

Singapore Sports Hub
The Singapore Sports Hub, which cost S$1.33 billion to build, commenced operations on 30 June 2014. The 35-hectare site houses the new 55,000-seat National Stadium, a 6,000-capacity indoor aquatics centre, the Singapore Indoor Stadium, a sports museum, retail spaces and a library, among other facilities.17

The sports hub was officially opened on 25 July 2015 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.18 The 28th Southeast Asian Games was held there in the same year.19

Timeline
7 Dec 1966
: Piling for the National Stadium begins with Othman Wok driving in the first pile.

23 Feb 1970: Foundation stone is laid by Minister for Finance Goh Keng Swee, and a time capsule is sealed.20
17 Jun 1973: The first event, an international hockey friendly between Singapore and Australia, is held at the stadium.21
24 Jun 1973: The first football match, the Sultan’s Gold Cup final between Singapore Malays and Kelantan Malays, is held.22
21 Jul 1973: Official opening ceremony takes place.
1–8 Sep 1973: The 7th Southeast Asian Peninsular Games is held.23
17 Sep 1973: Practice track and tennis courts are opened to the public.24
24 Oct 1973: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali fights in a five-round exhibition bout.25
28 Jan 1976: Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos visits the stadium.26
9 Aug 1976: The stadium hosts its first National Day Parade.27
13 May 1977: A mass stampede occurs at the ticketing booths before the Malaysia Cup final between Singapore and Selangor; one man dies from heart attack and 44 others are injured.28
28 May–6 Jun 1983: The 12th Southeast Asian Games is held.29
20 Nov 1986: Pope John Paul II conducts mass at the stadium during his first visit to Singapore.30
12–20 Jun 1993: The 17th Southeast Asian Games is held.
1 Apr 1996: S-League is officially launched at the stadium, with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong as guest-of-honour.
Sep 1996: Inaugural match of the ASEAN Football Federation Tiger Cup between Singapore and Malaysia is played.
31 Oct 1998: Plate final of the Standard Chartered Asian Rugby Championships is held, and Singapore wins its first international rugby union trophy.
1 Feb 2001: Fire breaks out at a media room above the grandstand.
16 and 24 Jul 2001: Courts Cup matches between Team Singapore and English football clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, are held respectively.
24 Jul 2002: Fire breaks out at the main stage set up for the National Day Parade due to an electrical fault.
16 Jan 2005: Second leg of the Tiger Cup final is held.
9 Aug 2006: The stadium hosts its last National Day Parade.
31 Jan 2007: First leg of the ASEAN Football Championship (formerly Tiger Cup) final is held.31
30 Jun 2007: Official closing ceremony.
3 Apr 2008: Sports Council announces that the stadium will host at least two more football games due to delays in the construction of the Singapore Sports Hub.32
28 Jul 2008: A football friendly between the Brazilan Under-23 Olympic football team and a Singapore selection is played.33
21 Dec 2008: Semi-final of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup (also known as ASEAN Football Championship) is played.34
29 Sep 2010: Official groundbreaking ceremony of the Singapore Sports Hub.35
2011: Demolition of the National Stadium is completed.36
27–28 Jun 2014: A two-day open house is held at the Singapore Sports Hub.37



Author
Tan Seo Yean



References
1. Chandran, R., & Fong, L. (1973, July 22). Our goal in sports: Mr. Lee. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Luis, E. (2005, January 18). Why the Tiger Cup should go on. The New Paper, p. 49. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Luis, E. (2005, January 18). Why the Tiger Cup should go on. The New Paper, p. 49; Stadium memories: 1991–2007. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 66. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Driscoll, S. (2016, August 3). NDP 2016 returns to National Stadium: 5 memorable parades at the old stadium. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
5. A tribute to the old lady of Kallang. (2007, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 77. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973. (1973). Singapore: National Stadium, p. 6. (Call no.: RSING 796.0685957 TO)
7. Wok takes over Culture. (1965, August 12). The Straits Times, p. 1; Dorai, J. (1975, March 1). ‘Make sports attractive’… The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Low, L. F. (2017, April 17). Othman Wok: The man who built the National Stadium. Today. Retrieved from  
8. Boey, F. (1966, December 8). Wok ‘sinks’ first pile for complex. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. 4 directors for Toto betting. (1968, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 6; $75 m seven-year plan for sports. (1976, March 20). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Low, L. F. (2017, April 17). Othman Wok: The man who built the National Stadium. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
10. Stadium memories: 1973–1990. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 65. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. When Kallang roared. (2006, August 6). The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tan, F. (1974, April 5). The National Stadium is a white elephant? New Nation, p 7; Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Ng, B. Y. (2001, March 15). State-of-the-art sports hub in the offing, says Mr Abdullah. Today, p. 27; Chan, Y. S. (2007, April 17). A grand send-off awaits old lady. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. A tribute to the old lady of Kallang. (2007, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 77. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Lim, L. (2008, June 17). Sports hub may now be ready only by 2012. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lim, L. (2008, June 17). Sports hub may now be ready only by 2012. The Straits Times, p. 4; Singh, D. (2010, September 30). Hello, SportsHub. The New Paper, pp. 60–61; Wang, M. M. (2008, December 16). Lions tipped for final. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Low, L. F. (2011, June 22). Sports hub vows to wow Singapore. Today, p. 45; Tien, C. P., et al. (2014, February 27). Under one roof. The Straits Times, pp. 12–13; Open house at Sports Hub. (2014, June 27). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Boh, S. (2015, July 26). PM marks Youth Day, opens sports hub in front of 50,000 crowd. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
19. Board, J. (2015, June 16). SEA Games 2015 concludes with vibrant closing ceremony. Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

20. National Stadium time capusule lost. (2007, June 26). Today, p. 45. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Stadium memories: 1973–1990. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 65. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Koh, N. (1976, January 28). Imelda is all charm. New Nation, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Sidhu, K. S. (1977, May 15). Eleven people still warded in SGH. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Four stamps to mark 12th SEA Games. (1983, May 8). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Stadium memories: 1991–2007. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times, p. 66. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Lim, L. (2008, April 3). National Stadium to host 2 more games. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retreived from NewspaperSG.
33. Meet the Samba stars. (2008, July 25). The New Paper, p. 61. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Match details. (2008, December 21). The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Singapore Sports Council. (2010, September 29). Singapore Sports Hub – marking a new chapter of a sporting Singapore [Media release]. Retrieved 2017, July 7 from Sport Singapore website: https://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/newsroom/media-releases/2010/9/singapore-sports-hub--marking-a-new-chapter-of-a-sporting-singapore
36. Francisco, D. A. (2013, August 6). The grand old lady of Kallang. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Ee, D., & Lin, M. (2014, June 29). Crowds throng the hub – many try their hands at different sports. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Huang, H. (2009, February 8).  National Stadium back in business. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Kor, K. B. (2009, February 4). Sports Hub has problems raising funds. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



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.

 

Subject
Sports and games
Recreation>>Sports
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Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Public buildings
Sports, recreation and travel
Stadiums--Singapore
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Sports and Recreation