Singapore Indoor Stadium

by Koh, Jia Jie

The Singapore Indoor Stadium was officially opened on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1989, by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.1 Situated along the scenic Kallang River area, the stadium was part of the government’s urban re-generation project to revitalise the urban landscape, as well as to provide a world-class venue to meet the leisure and sporting needs of the people. Since its opening, more than five million people have attended more than 3,000 events at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, making it one of the top stadiums in Asia.2

Prior to the conception of the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the Geylang Indoor Stadium, affectionately known to its regulars as Gay World Stadium, had been the main indoor facility catering to Singapore’s sporting or entertainment needs.3 However, the rapidly ageing venue was deemed antiquated with its rundown surroundings and appearance, and lack of proper ancillary facilities. In addition, the Singapore government was looking to implement a range of initiatives in a bid to invigorate the urban landscape and enhance the nation’s natural resources, and a new, modern indoor sporting hub seemed to be the perfect answer to both questions.4

Subsequently, plans for a new indoor stadium of international standards were first proposed in 1971. Discussions, however, stalled for several years, partly due to the fact that Singapore was still recovering from a recent oil crisis. It was only until late 1985 that the Singapore Sports Council received in-principle approval to build the stadium. The new vicinity would become part of the Kallang Sports Complex situated along the Kallang River, which has a rich history dating back to Singapore’s pre-colonial era. Kenzo Tange Associates and Raglan Squire and Partners were appointed joint project consultants.5

Construction of the stadium began in late 1987, and within two years of the groundbreaking ceremony, it was completed two months ahead of schedule in November 1989. With the cost of the stadium itself totalling S$68.08 million, as well as another S$22.09 million for the car park, landscaping and other supporting infrastructure, the construction of the new Singapore Indoor Stadium amounted to a combined total of S$90 million, funded by Singapore Pools Pte Ltd and the Singapore Turf Club.6

World renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange was no stranger to Singapore architecture, having designed Nanyang Technological University in 1986, and was once again commissioned in 1987, this time by the Singapore Sports Council, to design the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Combining the latest technology with a design theme rooted in regional traditions, this is best epitomised by the majestic roof slope typical of temple architecture found in Asia. This amalgam of technology and tradition may have much to do with the variety of images the stadium is said to educe, ranging from a hat to a Chinese temple to Mount Fuji. Overall, the venue has earned much acclaim as one of the world’s architectural icons, with its ultra-modern design that exemplifies Asian cultural values at the same time.7

Key features

Commanding a total area of 54,178 sq m, the Singapore Indoor Stadium is 47 metres at its highest point, making it one of the tallest single-storey buildings in Asia. The seating capacity ranges from 7,000 to 12,000, depending on the position and size of the stage required. Its versatility is enhanced by 2,660 retractable seats and 1,200 portable seats. In addition, the performing area, a modular stage capable of achieving different configurations, can be expanded to 2,925 sq m. A large four-screen Sony Jumbotron suspends from the ceiling in the centre of the arena, from which spectators can catch closeup footage of the action or even occasional glimpses of themselves on the screens. With 5,442 parking lots, motorists have little trouble finding a parking spot on their visits.8

Along the years, several features had been upgraded or added to the stadium, in particular, the Stadium Waterfront project launched in 1998. The objective was to establish an area for outdoor activities along the western façade of the venue. Al fresco dining and entertainment outlets provided a place to enjoy meals before a show or simply a relaxed atmosphere for friends to gather. In addition, an outdoor site for performances and events known as the Stadium Green was created for family activities or communal events.9

Performers and events

Since its inception, the Singapore Indoor Stadium appears to have lived up to its mission statement to be the most sophisticated indoor venue of choice for sports, entertainment and community events. Major sporting events held at the stadium include the Heineken Open Singapore in 1997 (tennis),10 Aviva Open Singapore in 2007 (badminton)11 and the inaugural Asian Youth Games in 2009.12

In addition, numerous cultural and communal events have taken place in the stadium, for instance, the first ever indoor Chingay held in 1997.13 Many international pop stars, such as Elton John,14 Tina Turner,15 Kanye West,16 and pop bands like The Pussycat Dolls,17 Red Hot Chilli Peppers18 and The Black Eyed Peas,19 had staged concerts at the stadium.

Future developments

In 2007, construction of a new Sports Hub comprising the existing Singapore Indoor Stadium, a new 55,000-seat National Stadium, a 3,000-seat Aquatic Centre and a 6,000-seat Multipurpose Indoor Arena began as the government seeks to revamp the Kallang area into a vibrant environment for outdoors and leisurely activities. The projected completion date for the entire project has been set at 2011. On top of that, the Kallang River Basin will undergo desalination into a freshwater reservoir as a locale for water sports.20


Koh Jia Jie

1. Ong, S. C. (1989, December 31). Stage set for musical extravaganza. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Take a bow, big SIS. (1989, July 14). The New Paper, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Tan, E. S. (1989, October 26). New indoor stadium booked all the way up to 1994. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Frida, E. (1985, March 1). Plans ready soon for $45m indoor stadium. Singapore Monitor, p. 30; Tay, C. K. (1989, December 2). Beauty in the $68 million beast. The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. What's in the SIS? (1989, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Dorai, J. (1989, March 1). Indoor stadium will be ready ahead of time. The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Unique method to hoist roof. (1989, March 1). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. What's in the SIS? (1989, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Powell, R. (2000). Singapore: Architecture of a global city. Singapore: Archipelago Press, pp. 162–163. (Call no. RSING q720.959570904 POW)
10. Big guns. (1997, October 6). The New Paper, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Top stars to play in Aviva Open. (2007, April 12). Today, p. 56. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Asian Youth Games. (2008, June 24). The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Wong C. M. (1997, January 14). Chingay to be staged in Indoor Stadium too. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Elton John blasts off. (2008, May 8). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Leow, J. (1996, April 15). She’s still simply the best. The New Paper, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2008, October 31). Better, faster, stronger Kanye. The Straits Times, p. 68. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Simply purr-fect. (2009, June 6). Today, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Asif Ansar. (2002, December 11). They’re red hot. Today, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Chan, B. (2007, October 24). Peas pump it up. The Straits Times, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Tay, Y-H. (2005, April 5). Sports Hub ready for tender. Today, p. 44; Chan, Y. S. (2007, March 29). Kallang project to be an icon: Vivian. The Straits Times, p. 50. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

The information in this article is valid as at 2009 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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