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National Stadium

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Although the immediate priority after Singapore’s independence in 1965 was on housing, educating and providing employment for the people, the need for a suitable sports stadium for Singapore’s sporting activities was not forgotten1. Minister for Social Affairs, Encik Othman Wok had argued during the budget debate in Parliament on 23 December 1965, the importance of building a national sports stadium of Olympic standards at Kallang, which when completed, “will give a tremendous boost to the promotion of sport in Singapore, and will help to put Singapore on the forefront in the field of international sport”2.

PM Lee Kuan Yew
opening the National Stadium,
21 July 1973

On 23 February 1970, the Finance Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee laid the foundation stone. To prepare and execute the proposals, plans and projects for the National Stadium, the National Stadium Corporation (NSC) was established in 1971 under the chairmanship of Dr B K Sen.

Built at a cost of 32 million dollars, the 55,000-seat Stadium covered an area of 60 hectares. Equipped with a 400 metre eight-lane synthetic “Tartan” track, a well-equipped Sports Medicine and Research unit, six air-conditioned squash courts, eight tennis courts, shops, restaurants, an 8,400 square metre air-conditioned exhibition area, state-of-the-art sound and floodlight systems, and electronic scoreboards3, the Stadium was considered as one of the most modern in Southeast Asia then. It was completed at the end of June 1973.

Official opening of National Stadium on 21 July 1973

The National Stadium was officially opened by PM Lee Kuan Yew on 21 July 1973, in time for the 7th Southeast Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games. This was the first time that Singapore hosted a sports event of such magnitude. Provisions for the event included a SEAP Games Village in Toa Payoh New Town4. PM Lee, in his opening address, expressed confidence that the Stadium would be a place where people would be encouraged to watch, and then to participate in sporting activities5.

Over the next three decades, the Stadium bonded Singaporeans together in national spirit. It was home to 18 National Day Parades, the “Kallang Roar”, many national games, and regional sporting events. On 30 June 2007, the Stadium witnessed its last sports event – two football matches between Singapore and Malaysia ex-internationals and between Singapore and Australia. In its place would be a new Sports Hub to be ready by mid-2011.

Opening of SEAP Games, 1 Sep 1973

1 To Commemorate the Opening of the National Stadium – Republic of Singapore, 1973
2 Speech by the Minister for Social Affairs, Encik Othman Wok, at the
Budget Debate in Parliament, 23 Dec 1965
3 Ibid
4 Singapore Sports Council Annual Report, 1973.
5 Speech by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the official opening of the National Stadium, 21 July 1973.