Sports authority defends stadium rentals

Sports authority defends stadium rentals

After budget cuts of 40% for two years, state body says it needs to earn revenue

The SAT has drawn up business plans for some of its key facilities including 700th Anniversary of Chiang Mai Stadium.
The SAT has drawn up business plans for some of its key facilities including 700th Anniversary of Chiang Mai Stadium.

The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has defended the necessity of renting out of sports stadiums as its annual budget has been cut by 40% for two consecutive years.

SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee on Friday hit back at criticism of the state agency for allowing private organisations to rent national sports stadiums for events. He said it needed to find a source of revenue after 40% of its annual budget was transferred to public health because of the additional costs of managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

He affirmed that the main purpose of national sports stadiums is for holding national sporting events, saying the SAT would give priority to the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) when it plans to hold matches.

“When the venues are vacant, we must open them for rental to make up for shortcomings in our state-sponsored budget,” said Mr Kongsak.

Close to 40% of the SAT’s annual funding was diverted to public health over the past two years, making it unfeasible for the authority to sustain its operations on the budget alone, according to the governor.

Business plans have been drawn up for stadiums, such as Indoor Stadium Huamark in Bangkok, the 700th Anniversary of Chiang Mai Stadium and the 80th Birthday Stadium in Nakhon Ratchasima, with an emphasis on sustainability and the betterment of Thai sporting activities.

While the state budget for these stadiums is in the billions of baht, their operating costs have exceeded allocations. Indonesia and Malaysia have recently spent several billion baht to upgrade their national stadiums, and Singapore has rebuilt its national stadium at a cost of over 10 billion baht, said Mr Kongsak.

“We have only been able to maintain our stadiums with our current financial standing and have fallen to mid-tier status after previously being considered home to top-tier facilities in Asean,” he said. “This is why the SAT plans to attract private spending.”


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