Hong Kong Stadium
|Hong Kong Stadium|
|Po Tou (埔頭)|
Hong Kong Stadium as seen from Tai Hang Road
|Former names||Government Stadium|
|Location||So Kon Po, Wanchai, Hong Kong|
|Owner||Leisure and Cultural Services Department|
|Operator||Leisure and Cultural Services Department|
|Construction cost||US$ 85.1 million|
|Field dimensions||105 x 68 metres|
|1956 AFC Asian Cup
Hong Kong Sevens
Hong Kong National Football Team
South China (2008–)
|Hong Kong Stadium|
|Hong Kong Government Stadium|
|Literal meaning||Head of the port|
Hong Kong Stadium, also called So Kon Po Stadium, is the main sports venue of Hong Kong. Redeveloped from the old Government Stadium it reincarnated as Hong Kong Stadium in March, 1994. It has a maximum seating capacity of 40,000, including 18,257 at the main level, 3,153 at executive level, 18,507 upper level seats and 57 seats for wheelchair users.
The stadium is located in So Kon Po, Hong Kong Island, a valley near Causeway Bay. Most international football matches held in Hong Kong are held at this stadium. It is also the location for the Hong Kong Sevens rugby sevens tournament. Hong Kong Stadium also hosted the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens twice, in 1997 and 2005.
So Kon Po was formerly the burial ground for the 1918 fire at Happy Valley Racecourse. Then the Hong Kong Government moved all the tombs to Aberdeen. The old Government Stadium was constructed by 1953 and had a capacity of 28,000. It witnessed the best times of Hong Kong football in the 60s and 70s. At the time, the stadium would be packed full of spectators when a top of the league clash happened and a red flag would be hoisted. Eager spectators without tickets would climb the hill behind the stadium to see the game.
The old Government Stadium was only partially covered, without sufficient seats or lighting systems. In the 90s, the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club proposed a reconstruction plan so that Hong Kong can have a world class sports stadium.
Even before the reconstruction, the Government Stadium was Hong Kong's most important sports venue, with a clay running track around the football field. As the focus on the design was for football only, the track went to 450m, 50m longer than standard. Numerous schools held their athletic meetings here.
1994 Re-construction and Wembley International 
In the early 1990s, the Government Stadium was reconstructed into a 40,000-seat rectangular stadium. No running track was built due to the restricted land size. This forced the schools to look for alternative venues.
The stadium's management contract was won by Wembley International, a foreign subsidiary of Wembley Stadium, against strong competition, in March 1994.
From the first day there have been serious problems with the pitch. The owners of the stadium, the local urban council, were disappointed. It came under fire from local football officials, sports promoters and even Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who said, before the exhibition match between Manchester United and South China AA on 20 July 1997, "The pitch is cutting up. The surface is just sand-based and the turf doesn't hold well. Injuries can occur."
The government had hoped that the stadium could be used as a music concert venue in order to bring in more rental income. But nearby citizens complained endlessly about 'noise levels', leading to restrictions on noise levels that effectively rendered the stadium unsuitable for concerts. This reduced greatly the income levels of the stadium and the management company, Wembley, ran into financial troubles.
1998 Hong Kong government takeover 
Wembley's management tenure at the stadium was abruptly terminated by the Provisional Urban Council (PUC) on 26 May 1998. PUC also asked Urban Services Department (USD) to assume temporary management of the Hong Kong Stadium and has also agreed to USD's proposals to returf the entire pitch of the Hong Kong Stadium. The fundamental issue between the parties was the care and maintenance of the stadium pitch, but also a complaint about an unauthorized bungy jump by Canadian Paul G. Boyle.
In the end, the Hong Kong government was judged to have wrongfully terminated the management agreement and had to pay over HK$20million in damages to Wembley Plc.
Non-sports events 
Alan Tam held a concert at the Hong Kong Stadium from 22 April to 24 April 1994. It was the only solo concert held here.
Canadian Paul G. Boyle illegally bungy jumped from the roof of the Hong Kong Stadium on the morning of Friday 24 May 1996. He was not arrested but was given a lifetime ban from all Hong Kong urban council facilities. Saturday 25 May 1996, the publicity stunt was front page news of the leading English newspaper the South China Morning Post (SCMP) as well as other leading newspapers world wide.
2008 Bledisloe Cup 
On 1 November 2008, the ground became the first stadium outside of Australia or New Zealand to host a match of the Bledisloe Cup, a rugby competition between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand won the match, 19-14.
2009 East Asian Games 
The stadium was used as the final venue for both the Rugby 7s and Football tournaments of the 2009 East Asian Games. Hong Kong's rugby 7s team and football team both made the final against Japan. The rugby 7s team finished second to Japan but the football team defeated them in front of over 31,000 spectators, including Donald Tsang.
Hong Kong First Division League 
Starting from 2010/11 football season, only South China use the Hong Kong Stadium as the home stadium.
2019 Rugby World Cup 
In addition to the nine venues located in Japan, one venue each from Singapore and Hong Kong have also been proposed to host five matches respectively. The Hong Kong Stadium, with a capacity of 40,000, may host matches.
At the 2013 Policy Address, Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying said once the Kai Tak Stadium is operational in 2019, the Hong Kong Stadium will be turned into a 10,000 capacity district sports arena.
Full house 
The first full house official football match (i.e. non-exhibition match) at the Hong Kong Stadium was the 2009 AFC Cup semi-final second leg between South China AA and Kuwait SC. This was added to in the same year by the 2009 East Asian Games football final between Hong Kong U23 and Japan U23. Although there were empty seats in the stadium, all tickets were sold or distributed.
Hong Kong Stadium can accommodate 40,000. The spread is as below:
- 18,256 at Main level
- 18,507 at Upper levels
- 3,153 at Executive levels
- 57 wheelchair spaces
In addition, there are many refreshment kiosks inside the stadium.
Other use 
The stadium was supposed to be a multi purpose entertainment and sports venue, due to its much greater capacity compared to the other popular and over used Hong Kong Coliseum, where nearly all uses are now strictly for popular entertainment. However, its open-air nature has led to noise complaints from residents in tower blocks surrounding the stadium. It has not been allowed to host entertainment events since 1999.
See also 
- Hong Kong Stadium architect: Populous
- Takungpao, 1956-09-05, page 8
- "Football: Wembley may lose foreign deal". The Independent. London. 4 April 1998. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Major overhaul on the cards for troubled stadium[dead link]
- "Provisional Urban Council terminates Wembley's Management Agreement for the Hong Kong Stadium". Info.gov.hk. 26 May 1998. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE ACTION NO.8518 OF 1998 BETWEEN SECRETARY FOR JUSTICE Plaintiff AND WEMBLEY INTERNATIONAL (HK) LIMITED 1st Defendant WEMBLEY PLC 2nd Defendant". Legalref.judiciary.gov.hk. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "China's Olympic gold medallists to visit Hong Kong (with photo)". Info.gov.hk. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "2009/10賽季各球會主場". Paper.wenweipo.com. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- RWC 2015 /2019: 15 Main Topics & Venues of the Bid of Japan , Japan Rugby Football Union
- Mary Ann Benitez and Eddie Luk (17 January 2013). "Kai Tak Fantasy will become reality". The Standard.
- (traditional Chinese (HK))資料庫：正賽爆棚 紅旗再現 Apple Daily. 22 October 2009.
- (traditional Chinese (HK))持票者甩底 大球場未滿座 Apple Daily. 13 December 2009.
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