The proposal to rebuild the Hang Day sports complex in Hanoi is causing concern about inevitable traffic congestion.
Earlier this month city authorities outlined the plan to upgrade the stadium on Trinh Hoai Duc Street into an international sports complex for the Southeast Asian Games (2021 SEA Games).
The new stadium will have a capacity of 20,000 people, the same as the old one, but accommodate additional facilities like cinemas, event centers, parking space, and convenience stores.
It will be the second international sports complex in Hanoi after the My Dinh stadium in Nam Tu Liem District.
Nguyen Quoc Thong, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Architects, said a major sports complex in such a densely populated area would see traffic increase hugely.
Hanoi should not add another complex to its long list of constructions and in fact ought to replace the existing stadium with a park, he said.
“If the city persists in building a new stadium, it should be done in suburbs to minimize traffic pressure. It is not appropriate to upgrade Hang Day stadium with the current traffic.”
The Hang Day stadium was first built for Hanoi’s École d’Education Physique (Hanoi’s School of Physical Education) in 1934. It was expanded in 1958.
In 2017 it was handed over to T&T Group, which also has interests in finance, real estate and agriculture.
The stadium is about 2.7 kilometers to the west of the iconic Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) in downtown Hanoi.
Trinh Hoai Duc Street cuts Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in the north and Cat Linh Street in the south, which are currently congested during rush hours.
The work, to be undertaken by private firm T&T Group, which is managing the stadium now, is expected to cost over VND6.3 trillion ($270.4 million) in the form of build-operate-transfer (BOT).
The headquarters of the Department of Planning and Investment nearby would be shifted to another location to make space for the new complex.
Bui Cong Minh, an urban transport expert at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, said the impact the complex would have on traffic needs to be assessed before building it.
The developer would need to build other traffic infrastructure such as roundabouts, tunnels and overpasses to preclude traffic jams, he told Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper.
“There are different ways to tackle this issue, but if there is no good solution then the project should not be proceeded with.”
Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said building a new stadium would be “a good thing” but the exploitation and operation duration of up to 50 years before T&T Group hands it over to the State should be carefully appraised.
Sports management experts should consider if this duration is too long, he noted.
Hanoi will host the 31st edition of the SEA Games, which is scheduled to last 17 days, as well as the Para Games, for 11 days, from October to December in 2021.
A total of 16,000 people are estimated to participate in the event, 11,000 of them athletes.
This is the second time that Vietnam will be hosting the SEA Games after the first instance in 2003.