Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday broke ground on an 85-hectare, multimillion-dollar sports complex to be built by a firm belonging to Senator Ly Yong Phat over the next nine years as part of Cambodia’s bid to host the 2023 South East Asian Games.
Morodok Techo National Sports Complex is to be built in three phases, the first of which will cost just under $39 million and will be constructed by LYP Group in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district.
“The Morodok Techo National Sport Complex and new stadium will help prepare us for the SEA Games and other international sporting events, so the inter-ministerial committee discussions focused on quality, beauty and a high standard,” said Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Mr. Chuktema said the government had signed a sub-decree on December 13 to swap 853,000 square meters of Mr. Yong Phat’s land in Russei Keo district’s Prek Tasek commune for more than 1 million square meters of public land on the Chroy Changvar peninsula where the sports complex will be built.
Renderings of the elaborate project show that a huge swathe of wetland on the Chroy Changva peninsula between the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers will ultimately become a leafy looking sporting village that will be bordered by a massive property development called Garden City that will include a high-rise tower, golf course, waterfront promenade, convention center and even a China Town. The Cambodian firm L.C.T Architecture Group Co. Ltd. has been chosen to design the project.
The project is the first realistic plan Cambodia has started to seriously put in place the infrastructure needed to host the SEA Games. The government initially hoped to run for the Games in 2015, but shelved those plans in June last year.
According to Mr. Chuktema, the indoor sports building, swimming center, training hall, athletes’ village and outdoor sports fields would blend a mixture of ancient and modern Khmer architecture—a rendering of the main stadium features a massive Naga wrapping around the roof.
“The National Sport Complex will be able to accommodate 100,000 people, while the stadium can seat 75,000 people,” Mr. Chuktema added.
Mr. Hun Sen told the crowd that financing would dictate the speed with which the project can be completed. He said that the entire project could theoretically be completed within five years if the money from the government comes in.
“For the first step, we’re spending $38 million, but for the second and third phases, we cannot estimate how much money it will cost,” he said.
“If they build houses here, I will buy one, because there will be a golf course nearby,” he added. The first phase of the project will include a building for indoor sports, a swimming pool, a training facility and a housing complex for athletes.
The main stadium will be built in the second phase over a period of three years.
Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said the construction of the project would provide a boost to sports in Cambodia. He also said the new stadium would not mean an end to Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, which was designed by the Cambodian architect Vann Molyvan.
“Olympic Stadium will be kept the same as before,” he said. “Even if this new place is finished, we would still need it, because there are not enough places to train in sport.
“I am very happy that the sports field is developing with support from the government and private sector,” Mr. Chamroeun added.
Mr. Yong Phat could not be reached.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said LYP Group was chosen as the contractor for the project earlier this year and that there was no public bidding for the contract.
“The government only chose LYP Group to build this area and stadium. No other companies tried to make a contract with the government,” he said.