Sports Hub’s third class mindset

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Sports Hub

by Michael Y.P. Ang

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC), on its official website, calls the Singapore Sports Hub “a unique cluster development of integrated world-class sports facilities”. However, even before construction is completed, the Sports Hub is already plagued by different problems.

First, it has been confirmed that the Sports Hub will fail to meet its target of being fully functioning by next month. Its centrepiece, the National Stadium, is now slated to be ready in June instead.

Second, the Sports Hub is caught in a controversy over allegations of monopolising the market for selling event tickets. It was reported early this month that Sports Hub Pte Ltd (SHPL), which runs the hub, has given one of its own units, Sports Hub Tix, the exclusive rights to selling tickets to all Sports Hub events.

Monopoly, by its very essence, is anti-competitive. Isn’t it somewhat ironic that the company running supposedly world-class facilities for international sport, an activity highly competitive in nature, is being criticised for being anti-competitive?

It must be said that only the Competitions Commission of Singapore has the responsibility and the right to determine whether SHPL has breached the Competitions Act.

SHPL could argue that because it has invested massively in the hub, it deserves the right to sell every ticket sold at all Sports Hub venues. Few would find this a faulty argument if SHPL had the most efficient ticketing system in the marketplace.

But already, complaints about Sports Hub Tix’s poorly-functioning ticketing software are flying thick and fast. For instance, a ticketing breakdown has prevented fans from buying tickets to an upcoming concert by multiple Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift.

It is bad enough if the concert promoter suffers from reduced revenue because of that. It is even worse if there were overseas fans who were planning to visit Singapore for the concert but ended up not coming because of the ticketing problem, resulting in lost tourism revenue.

Why limit the market to only one ticketing operator when there are more experienced operators with proven platforms for selling tickets? SHPL should learn to embrace Singapore’s culture of meritocracy.

The government wants the Sports Hub to be perceived as world-class, but SHPL’s practice of shutting out market leader SISTIC seems to be motivated by a third-world mindset. This is hardly the right path to take if SHPL wants to succeed in building a lasting, positive brand image for the Sports Hub.