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 a U-shaped constructed by 1953 and had a capacity of 28,000 with partially covered seating. 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. In 2008, 39,000 people attended the first Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between Australia and New Zealand. In 2010, 26,210 people attended the second Bledisloe Cup rugby union game at the Hong Kong Stadium.
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 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.
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. Hong Kong Stadium is now managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong, after the Urban Council was disbanded.
Latest Update - 26.10.2020