Changi Motorsports Hub plan off, says SSC

Patwant Singh Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) confirmed Wednesday it will not proceed with the re-tender for the Changi Motorsports Hub site, effectively putting an end to the ambitious race-track project.

This follows the conclusion of an extensive international and local market sounding and Request for Information (RFI) exercise.

The council said it was unable to proceed with the re-tender as it could not accede to certain conditions from potential investors.

These include requests for flexibility of lease terms and land use, as well as tax concessions.

SSC CEO Lim Teck Yin said the land take and proposed use under the project "do not justify an operating model that involves significant government subsidies or concessions".

The council had received seven proposals from six consortia, the majority of which were motor-sports related.

Proposed motorsports ideas included a FIA grade 2 or 3 circuit, a CIK graded karting circuit, a racing academy, a dragstrip, and bonded warehousing. Non motorsports-related ideas included a theme park and watersports marina. Common ideas cutting across the majority of the proposals include retail and F&B.

The 41-hectare site in Changi will be reinstated to authorities.

Mr Lim said: "While we work towards handing the site back to the authorities, SSC is also actively working with the relevant agencies on possible interim uses for the site for motorsports-related activities, such as karting, for the community."

The race track project has stalled since 2011 when the Japanese-led consortium that won the bid ran out of money.

- CNA/jc

End of the road for Changi Motorsports Hub
Royston Sim Straits Times 13 Jun 13;

AFTER three tumultuous years, plans to restart the Changi Motorsports Hub project have officially been scrapped.

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) announced yesterday that it would not be putting the 41ha site up for a second tender, as it could not accept certain conditions that potential investors had asked for.

This effectively spells the end of the Republic's bid to build a permanent motorsports racetrack, which seemed to take off when Japanese-led consortium SG Changi won a $36 million bid to build the facility in 2010.

But the wheels began to fall off the project a year later, when the consortium ran into delays and financial difficulties, amid allegations of corruption.

The SSC terminated its contract with SG Changi last year. It then launched a market-sounding exercise to gather information from potential bidders - and received seven proposals from six consortia during this period.

All of the proposals asked for subsidies or concessions, such as land being given for free or doubling the existing 30-year lease.

At least one proposal asked for the land - next to the grounds for the Singapore Airshow - to be converted to mostly retail use.

"These significant conditions for the project to be commercially viable are things that the SSC cannot accede to," SSC chief executive Lim Teck Yin said at a press briefing yesterday.

Marina tycoon Arthur Tay, together with venture capitalist Tommie Goh, was one of those who submitted proposals. Mr Tay told The Straits Times: "It is not realistic (without subsidies) based on land and cost."

"Worldwide, such facilities are supported by municipalities. We don't have to go too far - look at Johor," he said, referring to plans to build a similar motorsports facility in Iskandar.

But Mr Lim explained that the land size and its proposed use "do not justify an operating model that involves significant government subsidies or concessions".

When SG Changi won the initial tender, its plans included a 3.7km racetrack, a grandstand that could accommodate 20,000 spectators, a racing academy, a hotel and video arcades.

On whether the project was now a wasted effort, Mr Lim said: "That would be too strong a language to use, to say we have wasted our time...I think we have explored it to the extent we can in Singapore."