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New Singapore stadium to host top soccer teams in annual competition

SINGAPORE -- Singapore's state-of-the-art new stadium will host an annual soccer tournament featuring top European teams as one of its cornerstone events when it opens in 2014, organizers have revealed.

The 55,000-seat facility, centerpiece of a billion-dollar complex near the city center, is also likely to hold international rugby and Twenty20 cricket, and is the confirmed venue for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, they said.

The dome-shaped National Stadium, with a retractable roof and seating cooled by ducted air, is currently under construction along with two indoor arenas, an aquatics center and watersports facility, plus a large shopping mall.

Andrew Georgiou, chief operating officer of commercial partner World Sport Group, admitted the roster of events was a “huge talking point” for the stadium, in a city with a patchy sporting calendar.

He said the aim was to create new events that return on a regular basis, along the lines of Hong Kong's Barclays Asia Trophy soccer tournament, which draws visits from English Premier League teams.

“I wouldn't call it an exhibition but I'd call it a regular event that we'll host in June, July or August during the summer break,” Georgiou said of the new tournament involving European clubs.

He added: “We're trying to avoid only having events which come in one year and then don't happen again.

“So football is be going to be a main staple of the event calendar and we're working with the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) and regional football bodies to make sure that football will be a regular, recurring content at the venue.”

Georgiou was speaking at the sales launch of 62 executive suites, available at a cost of up to SG$272,000 (US$221,000) a year for corporate entertaining, on Wednesday.

With Singapore's government guaranteed a return on its investment, private-sector backers bear the risk of the project failing to make a profit.

Details of the new stadium's roster are still under wraps but Twenty20 cricket is a priority, possibly featuring Indian Premier League or Australian, New Zealand and South African sides.

Rugby's Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand is on the “hit list” as well as appearances by Super 15 teams and an event on the popular international Sevens series.

“We're getting to the final stretch of being able to get people to confirm (events) going forward and I think Singapore will be pleasantly surprised at the content we can deliver,” Georgiou said.

Singapore fans can also expect pop concerts as well as “spectaculars” like Ben Hur live and Cirque du Soleil — and even monster truck derbies.

The 2015 Southeast Asian Games is one of the few confirmed events, along with Singapore's annual national day parade.

The “sports hub” complex, which replaces Singapore's previous national stadium, follows a drive to pep up the once-staid Asian state that now has a casino and a glittering Formula One night race.

The tiny but wealthy country also hosts one of Asia's richest golf tournaments, the US$6 million Barclays Singapore Open, a Super Series badminton competition and World Cup shortcourse swimming.

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These two graphic illustration handout images show the national stadium currently under construction in Singapore. The state-of-the-art stadium will host an annual soccer tournament featuring top European teams as one of its cornerstone events when it opens in 2014, organizers have revealed. (AFP/SportsHub)



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