Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Far Glory spars with Taipei City

STADIUM PROJECT A spat between the Far Glory Group and the city is escalating over the make-up of the team of firms that is supposed to build the dome stadium

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Far Glory Group (遠雄企業團), leader of an alliance contracted to construct Taipei's first dome stadium, yesterday refused to accept a Taipei City Government review committee's July 5 rejection of changes to its construction team, and said it plans to take the issue to an international court for arbitration.

"We hope the city government will hold a public hearing to clarify the doubtful decision-making process, or we will take legal action against the committee to defend our interests," Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄), chairman of Far Glory, told a press conference yesterday.

In mid-May, a construction team led by Far Glory won the contract to build the multi-function stadium on the site of the historic Sungshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠) in downtown Taipei. The construction of the 45,000-seat stadium was supposed to begin last September and be completed in December 2007.

But Far Glory was forced to make changes to its team after Ricky Liu & Associates (劉培森建築師事務所), the appointed designer of the stadium, pulled out of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project in October last year after a disagreement over the allotment of shares in a planned dome company.

A Taipei City Government review committee agreed to let Far Glory replace its construction team, as long as the substitute's capability was equivalent to or better than the original one.

After a meeting in May and one last Tuesday, the committee ruled that the new team, made up of HOK Sport+Venue+Event and Japanese construction firm Obayashi Corp, was not as good as the original one, composed of Ricky Liu & Associates, Japanese constructor Takenaka Corp and Japanese architect Hiroshi Hara.

The committee then demanded that Far Glory retain the old team, or re-tender its bid.

Chao defended the new team, and said that HOK is the top choice for the Taipei Superdome. Chao described the firm as the world's best stadium designer, having completed seven Olympic stadium projects and 10 stadiums with over 40,000 seats each. Although Takenaka, one of the original team members, has designed several large stadiums in Japan, including the Osaka Dome and the Nagoya Dome, it pales in comparison to HOK in terms of the size of its staff, experience and number of projects accomplished, Chao said.

Paul Henry, senior principal of HOK who also attended the press conference, added that the alliance's design is better than Takenaka's proposal, which copies the Sapporo Dome.

"We are offended by the [committee's] suggestion that we don't have the best experience to design the dome," Henry said.

Chao further said he suspected that Ricky Liu (劉培森) had colluded with the committee members to pass the resolution after Chao declined to consent to Liu's request for a considerable kickback of around NT$4 billion to NT$5 billion from the project.

In response, Lee Sush-der (李述德), director of the Taipei City Government's Department of Finance and the commissioner of the committee, said that Far Glory can appeal to the city government through the proper administrative procedures. The committee will decide what to do after receiving official notice from the company, he said.

The committee's resolution was made after a vote by its 17 members, who each

had their own subjective judgments as to the qualifications of the two

teams, Lee said in a phone interview.

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