Sports PPPs are more than sports
Is it possible to pursue public-private partnerships (PPPs) on sports? How can this be viable? Name one example of a viable sports PPP.
The Singapore Sports Hub (Hub) is one such model. This “strategic PPP” is a 25-year, close to P50-billion PPP between Sport Singapore and Sports Hub Pte. Ltd. This is touted to be one of the largest sporting infrastructure PPP projects in the world today.
The nine-facility multiuse Hub, situated on a 35-hectare property, was just a national stadium prior to turnover. This PPP is a design-finance-build-operate-transfer with concession, where the concessionaire is entitled to collect end-user fees and make revenues.
This facility accommodates several functions, which are not exclusive to sports. The project overview declares that “Singaporeans can play sports, attend a concert, have dinner with their families by the waterfront or visit the sports museum and library with their children over the weekend. There is something for everyone”.
This project is not just about having an iconic sports structure. “At Vision 2030, we believe that sport can help to maintain Singapore’s social integrity and economic strength.”
What can we learn from the Hub?
PPPs even for wealthy nations. Resource scarcity is not the only reason government collaborates with the private sector. Innovation, better value-for-money, quality service and accelerated service delivery are other reasons. Even if a country, like Singapore, had all the resources, partnership presents opportunities and benefits.
Anchor it on a vision. Sports PPPs must be part of a bigger whole and must have a bigger purpose. Like all PPPs, the partnership is not the be-all. The goal is serving a noble purpose, serving the people. Following the Singapore vision, sports can help maintain our social integrity and economic strength. Sports PPP is more than sports.
Public proponents in the Philippines. Aside from the Philippine Sports Commission, there are other public proponents for sports PPPs. The Department of Public Works and Highways, local government units, government corporations and instrumentalities, like the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Philippine Reclamation Authority and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., among others, can undertake or coundertake, or finance or cofinance sports PPPs. Sports PPPs can also be a public-public collaboration.
Sports alone may not cut it. A PPP purely on sports may not reap enough revenues to make it economically feasible for private proponents. There might be not enough end-users if the project is just sports. One way of making sports PPPs doable is to use the bundling approach—mixing revenue-raising with nonrevenue-raising components into one project, under one contract with one proponent. The sports plus PPP can host restaurants, tourist attractions, amusement centers, malls, pay parking, hotels, socialized-housing units and museums.
Available PPP modalities. Like the Hub, we can have sports PPPs using the build-operate-transfer scheme. Other than this modality, joint ventures, long-term leases and even divestment can be adopted.
Our own Hub. The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (Complex) can be our version of the Hub. The Complex can be redeveloped, like the Singapore National Stadium, into a multiuse facility. The country could have other sports plus hubs.
So, what are we waiting for? We can. We should. Now.