The Sports Affairs Council (SAC) yesterday criticized the Greater Kaohsiung Government for its proposed plan to remove the track and field facilities from the National Stadium and turn it into a baseball stadium, adding that the city government has acted contrary to the takeover plan it submitted to the council.
The council issued the statement after media reported that Greater Kaohsiung planned to outsource the management of the National Stadium to private contractors. One of the contractors proposed to remove the track and field facilities, lay down grass and turn the stadium into a baseball stadium. In its statement, the council used the word “unbelievable” to describe what it said was an outrageous decision. The stadium was built specifically for the 2009 World Games in Greater Kaohsiung.
The council said the central government spent NT$6.5 billion (US$221.6 million) of taxpayers’ money to build the stadium, which is equipped with a standard track and field certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). It is also equipped with a soccer pitch that complies with the specifications set by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
“The city government is evaluating the possibility [of turning the stadium into a baseball stadium], and we strongly oppose the proposal,” the statement said. “The plan would also be contrary to the plan the city submitted when it took over the operation of the stadium.”
The council said it had ensured the National Stadium could maintain operations before the city government took over last year. It had hoped that the Greater Kaohsiung Government would use the stadium mainly for track and field competitions and soccer games. As such, the council had promised to subsidize the operation of the National Stadium for the three years after the city government took over, to the tune of NT$40 million a year.
Prior to the takeover, the city government had been urging the council to quickly turn the operation of the National Stadium over to it. Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) even accused the SAC of deliberately delaying the transfer of management of the national sports facility. However, except for concerts by Taiwanese music band Mayday (五月天), the city government has done practically nothing with the stadium in the past year.
Sports associations in Greater Kaohsiung objected to the proposal as well. Some said Taiwan would be an international laughingstock if it destroyed an international-standard track and field facility less than four years after the high-profile World Games.
Others said the proposal was simply unacceptable, given that the city is due to host the National Athletic Games in 2015.
In response, the city government said it cost about NT$80 million a year to maintain the National Stadium, adding that it would carefully evaluate every proposal.