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The National Stadium of Singapore was officially opened on 21 July 1973 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. For over three decades, it was used for many major sporting, cultural, entertainment and social events, such as the 1983 and 1993 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the second-leg final of the 2004 Tiger Cup, and the concerts of popular artistes like Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and A*Mei. It was also the venue for 18 National Day Parades. This national icon was officially closed on 30 June 2007 to make way for the new S$1.87 billion Singapore Sports Hub. However, due to delays in the Sports Hub project, the stadium has yet to be demolished.
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, Othman Wok, then Minister for Social Affairs and Culture, campaigned for the substantial funds needed to get the plans off the ground. He believed that good sports facilities were needed to spur the people's interest in sports and improve the fitness of youths, especially since most of the National Servicemen recruited at the time were considered to be lacking in strength.
Singapore Pools, a private lottery company owned by the Ministry of Finance, was set up in 1968 to raise funds for the stadium. Proceeds from the lottery games Singapore Sweep and TOTO were used to pay for a substantial part of the construction.
The 7th Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games of September 1973 was the first major event held at the National Stadium. In the years that followed, the stadium witnessed the patriotic phenomenon dubbed "The Kallang Roar", the cheering and shouting of the national football team's supporters whenever it played against visiting teams.
The S$50 million National Stadium had an eight-lane running track and a football field. There were also miscellaneous facilities such as table-tennis tables, a weights room and an auditorium housed in the large spaces under the spectator stands. To accommodate large crowds, there were parking lots for more than 4,000 cars and 100 motorcycles.
On 30 June 2007, a closing ceremony titled Field of Dreams - A Tribute to the National Stadium was held at the stadium. Some 45,000 people attended the event together with President S. R. Nathan, who was guest-of-honour, Cabinet members and hundreds of national athletes.
The site will be redeveloped in a project to create an integrated cluster of world-class sporting facilities known as the Singapore Sports Hub. A new 55,000-seat National Stadium will be built as part of the 35-hectare Sports Hub and it will be exempted from plans to sell naming rights for the facilities in the project.
When the Sports Hub was first announced in April 2005, it was scheduled for completion in 2010. However it has encountered several delays. As a result, the life of the National Stadium has been extended and it was most recently used for the home legs of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semi-finals.
7 Dec 1966 : Piling began.
23 Feb 1970 : Then Minister for Finance Dr Goh Keng Swee laid the foundation stone and a time capsule was sealed.
17 Jun 1973 : First event held at the stadium was an international hockey friendly between Singapore and Australia.
24 Jun 1973 : First football match was the Sultan's Gold Cup final between Singapore Malays and Kelantan Malays.
21 Jul 1973 : Official opening ceremony.
1 - 8 Sep 1973 : 7th SEAP Games.
17 Sep 1973 : Practice track and tennis courts were opened to the public.
24 Oct 1973 : Boxing great Muhammad Ali fought in a five-round exhibition bout.
28 Jan 1976 : Then Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos visited the stadium.
9 Aug 1976 : The stadium hosted its first National Day Parade.
13 May 1977 : A mass stampede occurred at the ticketing booths before the Malaysia Cup final between Singapore and Selangor. One man died from a heart attack and 44 others were injured.
28 May - 6 Jun 1983 : 12th SEA Games.
20 Nov 1986 : Pope John Paul II conducted mass at the stadium during his first visit to Singapore.
12 - 20 Jun 1993 : 17th SEA Games.
1 Apr 1996 : S-League was officially launched at the stadium.
Sep 1996 : Inaugural Tiger Cup.
31 Oct 1998 : Plate final of the Standard Chartered Asian Rugby Championships - Singapore won its first international rugby union trophy.
1 Feb 2001 : Fire broke out at a media room above the grandstand and destroyed the commentator booths.
16 & 24 Jul 2001 : Courts Cup matches between Team Singapore and English football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United.
24 Jul 2002 : Main stage set up for the National Day Parade caught fire due to an electrical fault.
16 Jan 2005 : Second leg of the Tiger Cup final - Singapore clinched the trophy.
9 Aug 2006 : The stadium hosted its last National Day Parade.
4 Feb 2007 : Second leg of the ASEAN Football Championship (formerly Tiger Cup) final - Singapore won its third title.
3 May - 30 Jun 2007 : Singapore Sports Council conducted free "farewell" tours of the stadium.
30 Jun 2007 : Official closing ceremony.
3 Apr 2008 : Sports Council announced that the stadium would host at least two more football games, due to delays in the construction of the Sports Hub.
28 Jul 2008 : A football friendly between the Brazil Olympic Team and a Singapore selection.
21 Dec 2008 : Semi-final of the AFF Suzuki Cup (also known as the ASEAN Football Championship).
Tan Seo Yean
Chua, C. J. (c1998). A nation at play: 25 years of the Singapore Sports Council. Singapore: Times Editions.
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Lim, L. (2008, April 3). National Stadium to host 2 more games. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from Factiva database.
Lim, L. (2008, June 17). Sports Hub may now be ready only by 2012. The Straits Times. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
Lim, L. (2008, October 12). Sports Hub completion date: 2012. The Straits Times. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
Lim, L., & Wang, J. (2008, January 20). The dome picked for Sports Hub. The Straits Times. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
Mediacorp TV. (n.d). The grand dame of Kallang. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from http://archive5.mediacorptv.sg/shows/specials/view/1543/1/.html
National Stadium safe for all sports events despite fire. (2001, February 3). Channelnewsasia. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from Factiva database.
Singapore Pools. (n.d). The beginning of the National Stadium. Retrieved December 18, 2008, from http://www.singaporepools.com.sg/jsp/corporate/corporate_nationalstad.jsp
Stadium memories: 1973-1990. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
Stadium memories: 1991-2007. (2007, June 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
To commemorate the opening of the National Stadium, Republic of Singapore: 1973. . Singapore: [National Stadium].
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Wang, J. (2008, February 16). Everything's for sale - except the stadium. The Straits Times. Retrieved December 19, 2008, from Lexis Nexis database.
Huang, H. (2009, February 8). National Stadium back in business. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Kor, K. B. (2009, February 4). Sports Hub has problems raising funds. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.