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The stadium features the world's largest retractable domed roof and the configurable seating on the lowest spectator tier to make it the only stadium in the world that is custom-designed to host different sporting events at any given time. Depending on its configurations, the stadium has a maximum seating capacity of 55,000 for football and rugby, 52,000 for cricket and 50,000 for athletics events/concerts and is the largest stadium in the country in terms of seating capacity. The roof is made out of insulated metal to reflect sunlight.
Construction work for the sports hub started in 2010 due to the delays caused by the 2008 financial crisis and soaring construction costs. By September 2011, the pilling and the foundation of the stadium was completed and construction on the steelworks of the stadium fixed roof started. In July 2013, the installation of the stadium final primary steel 'runway truss' for the roof was completed marking the completion of the steelworks on the National Stadium's fixed roof in preparation for installation of the retractable roof. The stadium was set to be completed in April 2014, however, In February 2014, Sports Hub CEO Philippe Collin Delavaud announced that the National Stadium's completion was pushed back to June 2014.
Stadium specifics and features
Spectator seating "modes"
The stadium has mechanised and automated configurable spectator tiers depending on the event that will be hosted, namely "Football/Rugby mode", "Cricket mode" and "Athletics mode". To reconfigure from the athletics mode to the football/rugby mode, the lowest spectator tier can be moved 12.5 meters forward, obscuring the athletics running track underneath the seats and thus bringing spectators close to the pitch to provide optimum spectator viewing distances. It takes approximately 48 hours to reconfigure seating arrangements to suit an upcoming event. An energy-efficient cooling system is also designed to deliver cooled air to every seat in the stadium while using less than 15 percent of energy as compared to a conventional air-conditioned stadium, providing every spectator a cool and comfortable time to enjoy an event.
Spectators at the World Club 10s Rugby on 22 June 2014 in the first sporting event held at the National Stadium.
The National Stadium currently holds the record of the largest dome structure in the world. The retractable roof itself will take an approximate 25 minutes to open or close. The roof is made out of a lightweight material called ETFE, which is weather-resistant and blocks the sun's heat, giving shade and protecting spectators from the hot and humid Singapore weather and potential torrential rain. At night, the retractable roof doubles as a giant projector screen on both sides, which can display images such as the Singapore Flag during the National Day Parade.
Desso GrassMaster was installed as the original grass pitch when the stadium opened. The sandy pitch was criticised by Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri during a pre-season friendly there in August 2014 and resulted in his decision not to field Carlos Tevez due to injury concerns. Afterwards, S$1.5 million of special growth lights were installed to stimulate and speed up the growth of the grass, with one of the main concerns being getting the pitch ready for the 2014 Suzuki Cup at the end of the year. In October 2014, Brazil coach Dunga criticised the state of the pitch, which had not improved much since the Juventus match, when his side were in Singapore to play a friendly against Japan. Although Brazil won the match 4-0, he said after the match that the sandy pitch had prevented his side from playing their best football. Eventually, the grass still failed to grow well and was replaced by the Eclipse Stabilised Turf in May 2015.
Bus stops are located around the Sports Hub complex along Stadium Walk, Stadium Boulevard and Nicoll Highway, with buses serving nearby districts and the city. Taxi stands are also conveniently available near the National Stadium, Singapore Indoor Stadium and Leisure Park Kallang.
Sports Hub was meant to replace the Old National Stadium as a premium location for high spectator capacity Singapore sports, large scale national events and top entertainment acts, but its operation was marked by several controversies.
The quality of the field pitch was put under scrutiny after the football match between Juventus and Singapore in August 2014, and again in October 2014 during the Brazil vs Japan friendly. The initial Desso GrassMaster system made of synthetic fibres and natural grass was widely criticised for its sandy nature and was replaced by the lay-and-play natural pitch in 2015.
Plans to hold major sports events at the stadium were scrapped due to the high costs of rental. Talks to hold The Merlion Cup football quadrangular and the Asia Masters Athletics Championships did not go through and the discussion to hold the 2016 NDP were stalled for a month due to cost issues as well.
National Day Parade
The old National Stadium was demolished to make way for the Sports Hub, which was seen as a possible new location for future National Day Parades (NDP) in Singapore. The venue hosted the NDP in 2016, two years after opening. However, the new stadium is considered unsuitable as the Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team is unable to parachute into the domed stadium due to safety concerns.
The dome structure also obstructs the view from outside, making the traditional military flypast and outdoor fireworks hard to observe for the stadium spectators. Heavy armoured military vehicles also cannot drive past spectators as the stadium tracks are not designed to accommodate them.
It is also three times more expensive for the government to hold national day parade at the new stadium compared to the temporary floating platform, Float@Marina Bay, despite being a public-private partnership. Under the contract between the Sports Hub and Singapore Government, NDP organisers were allowed 45 days of free annual usage of the venue. However, technicians and performers reported that the time frame needed to be extended to 80 days, to which the Sports Hub requested an additional $10 million. In the end the total cost of running the event (rental) in 2016 was S$39.4 million. In October 2017, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Marina Bay Floating Platform will be used as the primary venue for future NDPs.
Japan versus Brazil in football during the first sell-out crowd. 14 October 2014
The National Stadium hosted the opening ceremony and other events during the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. Other sports events included the World Club 10s Rugby in June 2014, a friendly match between Juventus and a Singapore Selection side in August 2014, which was the first-ever football match at the new stadium. The friendly match between Brazil and Japan in October 2014 is the first-ever sell-out crowd of 55,000 at the stadium. It also hosted the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup in November 2014. It is the venue of all the matches of the 2015 Barclays Asia Trophy that is held in Singapore. The stadium was the venue for the 2016 National Day Parade.