The Taipei Dome would mainly be used for sports events after authorities have ensured its safety, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, as he announced that if he is elected on Nov. 26, he would make public part of the correspondence between the Taipei City Government and the Dome’s contractor to clarify the decades-long controversy over the project.
DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄), Chen’s election campaign spokesman, said the Taipei Dome has been under construction for more than 20 years, under the supervision of three mayors, but there are still many unsolved issues concerning traffic, fire safety and usage rules, among others.
“The only thing that we are sure of is that construction has been ongoing, and currently 96.63 percent of the sports venue’s construction and 96.23 percent of the affiliated facilities’ construction have been completed, but there are still many problems with the Taipei Dome construction project,” Chuang said.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), head of the campaign’s policy research task force, said that stagnation at the project 20 years after the Dome’s preparatory office was established proves the overall stagnation of Taipei under its current mayor and his two most recent predecessors.
She said Taipei needs a new mayor who tries to find solutions that are bold and daring, and who has the ability to execute plans.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) said that then-Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2004 had meetings with Taipei Dome contractor Farglory Group, which included negotiations on operation royalties, but the 11th meeting suddenly concluded with an agreement of “zero royalties,” which has long been suspected as lining the company’s pockets.
The original site for the Dome project was in the Guandu (關渡) area, and the reason for the project’s relocation remains unknown, Juan said.
Farglory’s investment execution plan for 2020 showed that the venue operators were planning to allow concerts on 192 days of the year, compared with sports events on 58 days, and that no professional baseball games would be held at the dome, Juan said, adding that this would fall short of Taipei residents’ expectations.
A traffic plan released by the city government’s urban design review committee in October 2019 showed that if 80 percent of an audience of 40,000 take public transportation after an event at the Dome, it would take nearly an hour for them to leave the site, he said.
Farglory in August last year applied to change the refuge floor designation from the Dome’s first floor to the first basement floor, but it cannot explain why it applied for that fourth major design change, Juan said, adding that the new design has not passed the Taipei Fire Department’s smoke tests.
The rent for holding events at the Taipei Dome could be as high as NT$1.6 million (US$53,367) per day, which would be a big burden for baseball teams and other sports event hosts, he added.
Chen said if he is elected mayor, he would seek to achieve three goals related to the Dome — ensuring public safety, giving priority to sports events and unveiling documents about the construction process to help the public understand how decisions were made.
The Taipei Dome was originally designed for baseball games, so the usage plans should be updated to include more days for sports events, he said.
Public safety cannot be compromised, so evacuation plans, and fire and disaster prevention measures must meet national standards, he said.
Disputes over the construction project have continued for too long, so he would seek to increase transparency and enable a rational discourse over what went wrong based on the to-be unveiled documents.
Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate, yesterday said Chen’s promise to be open and transparent “is a joke.”
He said Chen, a former head of the Central Epidemic Command Center, should first make public the minutes of a meeting at which shortened quarantine requirements for aircrew members was decided.
The KMT says that the policy led to a COVID-19 outbreak last year, a claim that the government denies.
Chiang said the DPP candidate should also disclose information about the prices Taiwan paid for COVID-19 vaccines.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), who is also expected to run for Taipei mayor, yesterday said the city government last year submitted Taipei Dome-related safety documents to the Ministry of the Interior for review.
While the city government is strictly safeguarding public safety, the ministry is stalling and blocking the progress, she said.
Documents about the project have been uploaded to the city government’s Taipei Dome project Web site in the past seven years, so Chen should “google” them, she said, adding that the Taipei Dome was designed as a baseball venue and can certainly host games, so there is no need to discuss this issue.
Additional reporting by CNA
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