Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Universiade will not be held at Taipei Dome: Ko

‘ASTONISHED’:Farglory’s representative, Shih Yi-fang, announced her resignation just before the start of the first round of arbitration talks with the city government

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Spectators watch an event at the Taipei Municipal Stadium on May 8.

Photo: Liang Pei-chi, Taipei Times

The 2017 Universiade’s opening and closing ceremonies will not be held at the Taipei Dome — as originally planned — but will instead be moved to the Taipei Municipal Stadium, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday.

“If you take into account the time needed to prepare the interior, it cannot be guaranteed that the Taipei Dome project will be completed on time,” Ko said, adding that it would be easier to conduct city business if the Taipei Dome and the Universiade were “disconnected.”

The ceremonies were originally scheduled to be held in the Taipei Dome, but construction has fallen behind schedule amid conflict between the city government and contractor Farglory Group (遠雄集團) over safety and contract terms.

Ko said the stadium had already been used for the 2009 Summer Deaflympics, adding that its smaller seating capacity was the only drawback.

The stadium can seat 20,000 people, half of the Taipei Dome’s seating capacity as specified in construction plans.

While the city would consider measures to increase the number of seats, it estimated that lost ticket sales from holding the ceremonies at the stadium would total NT$200 million (US$6.5 million), Ko said.

He added that the city’s backup plan called for the ceremonies to be moved to the Taipei Arena. Unlike the Taipei Dome, the Taipei Municipal Stadium cannot be covered to shield spectators from the elements.

The city’s decision came as the first round of arbitration talks between the Taipei City Government and Farglory fell apart at the last minute yesterday.

Shortly before the arbitration proceedings at the Taiwan Construction Arbitration Association were to begin, arbitration committee chair Yao Nai-jia (姚乃嘉) announced that Shih Yi-fang (施義芳), Farglory’s arbitration representative, had just called to announce her resignation, without specifying a reason.

Taipei Department of Legal Affairs division chief Shen Hsing-lin (沈杏霖) said the city government was “astonished” and “at a loss” over Shih’s resignation, while emphasizing the city government’s position that there are currently no grounds for arbitration.

She said the Taipei Dome contract calls for a negotiation committee of representatives appointed by the firm and city to be established if talks break down. Arbitration is only required if the “harmonization committee” is unable to resolve the dispute after three months, she said.

She said the city agreed to send a representative yesterday, because only the arbitration committee could deny Farglory’s demand for arbitration.

Farglory spokesman Jacky Yang (楊舜欽) said Shih had not contacted the firm to explain her resignation.

He added that Farglory had demanded arbitration in April only after the city failed to respond to a March request to establish a “harmonization committee.”

Under the city’s contract with Farglory, if either party is unsatisfied with the result of arbitration, they can take the dispute to court.

The Universiade is an international biannual college student competition billed as second only to the Olympics by its organizer, the International University Sports Federation.

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