Opinion: Then Michael Jackson, now Taylor Swift: Why superstars don’t go to Hong Kong

What turned out to be most controversial was an idea from the American Chamber of Commerce. It will host a series of concerts with renowned artists performing on a purpose-built stage on the harbourfront. The ministers in charge of the relaunch enthusiastically supported the idea and immediately agreed to the requested subsidy of HK$100 million to keep ticket prices low.

The program went ahead and, despite some minor hiccups, it was a huge success, with packed concerts. Rolling stone And Carlos Santana.

Due to many reasons this event became a political issue. It is not easy to look back at the exact reason; It was possible that the economy would recover so quickly even before the first concert was held. Anyway, as an involved party, I am not neutral enough to comment.

The Rolling Stones performed in Hong Kong on 7 November 2003 in the first of two post-SARS concerts. Photo: Reuters
But the result was that the then Amcham Chairman jim thompson And I both had to face severe public criticism. I was also found guilty in the internal disciplinary process and had to face a small penalty.

Because the proceedings were clearly unfair and the outcome ridiculous, I sought judicial review of the decisions taken against me by the Chief Executive and two other senior officials. The judge ruled in my favor against all three and awarded costs.

To celebrate the outcome, which also cleared his name, Thompson threw a party for the legal team and others who helped. He distributed T-shirts to all attendees with the slogan on the front, “I fought the government.” And the law won” and on the back, with case number “HCAL 41/2007”. I still have mine.

Coincidentally, I wore that shirt one day last week after working out at the gym. Another person in the changing room pointed to the slogan and asked, smiling, “Is this still allowed?”

Of course. Despite the national security law and the impending Article 23 legislation, Under the common law system it will always be possible for any person who has been wronged to obtain redress in the courts. But his question was, if necessary, a reminder of the sensitivity of the subject.
Pedestrians ride an escalator near a poster promoting the national security law at Wan Chai MTR station on July 2, 2020. Photo: Bloomberg
Given the way my disorganized brain works, reminiscing about pop artists brings me to the topic of Taylor Swift, who, according to my children and grandchildren, is the latest sensation. She will tour Asia and Australia next year, performing in Tokyo (four nights, with a capacity of 55,000), Melbourne (three nights, with a capacity of 100,000) Sydney (four nights, with a capacity of 83,500) and Sydney (four nights, with a capacity of 83,500). Singapore (Six nights, capacity 55,000). she will be I will not come to Hong Kong,
There are several possible explanations for this omission: at the time the tour was being planned, we were still in Covid mode and emerging more slowly than other places. There is also the US State Department negative travel adviceWhich makes commercial insurance more difficult and expensive for such enterprises.

Hong Kong condemns US report accusing Beijing of interfering in city’s affairs

But the main issue is definitely the lack of suitable locations. The capacity of the temporary facility built for HarborFest was similar to that of the 12,500-seat Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom. The Hong Kong Stadium in So Kon Po has 40,000 seats but it is challenging to hold major concerts there.

The global entertainment industry will never forget that a proposed Michael Jackson concert several years ago did not go ahead amid noise concerns for nearby residents.

new sports park Now the stadium under construction in Kai Tak will be much bigger, with a capacity of 50,000 spectators. It will not be subject to noise restrictions, but will not be ready until late next year. By that time the Swift Tour would have moved towards Europe.
Kai Tak Sports Park will have a stadium with 50,000 seats. Photo: May Tse

Hong Kong’s Swifties – as their fans are known – will not suffer unduly as they are accustomed to traveling outside Hong Kong to attend major events. Over the years we have become accustomed to going to Macau to see headline artists because the casinos have clout and deep pockets, and usually include a “no Hong Kong concerts for X months” clause in the contract.

Singapore is easily accessible, and for the truly committed, Japan and Australia are not out of the question. Be prepared for a lot of teeth-gnashing by the local hospitality sector.

When the dust settles, perhaps someone will be able to figure out why, 20 years after Harborfest’s last notes faded, we’re still waiting for a proper venue.

Mike Rowse is CEO of Treloar Enterprises

(Tags to translate)Hong Kong Tourism(T)SARS(T)Rolling Stones(T)Taylor Swift(T)Michael Jackson(T)Hong Kong Stadium

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