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From Foreclosure to Fore! Abandoned Shenzhen Stadium Becomes Thriving Golf Range

Posted: 05/12/2014 2:02 pm

After the fanfare died down and athletes left the 2011 Shenzhen Universiade, the Shenzhen Sports Center suffered the ominous fate facing many national stadiums in China—abandonment.

But the Shenzhen Sports Center seems to have found a way out of this plight. It has converted its football field into a golf driving range and charges lofty membership fees to sustain its daily operation, Xinhua News Agency reported on May 10.

After first opening in August 2013, the golf club has attracted more than 500 members. Membership fees range from RMB 3,500 (USD 560) to RMB 11,000 (USD 1,800). Non-club members are also admitted as long as they pay for entry, the report said.

This financially-viable method adopted by the Shenzhen facility may prove to be a winning solution. In comparison, most of the sports venues built for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing have been left to rot and are heavily in debt. According to The Atlantic, it could take 30 years to pay off the $471 million bill for the Bird’s Nest. The Water Cube, also known as the National Aquatics Center, lost about $1 million in 2011 despite public financing and the addition of a water park.

These two former Beijing Olympic venues are fortunate to be still in operation. The rowing and kayaking center, baseball arena and BMX track, however, have been left deserted or demolished as seen in a series of photos taken by Reuters’ photographer David Gray.

A dog sits atop glass plates at a deserted field that was once part of the stadium where the 2008 Olympic Games baseball competition was held.

However, a problem with the transformation of the Shenzhen Sports Center is that residents are angry the center is using taxpayers’ money to serve a privileged few. The sports venue cost the government a total RMB 630 million (USD 101.2 million), and the residents are complaining that the few remaining football fields left in Shenzhen are increasingly being converted into golf courses.

The cultural bureau of Bao’an District in Shenzhen responded that turning government-funded sports centers into golf ranges does not violate any rules. The bureau said, “The state doesn’t prohibit such an act, nor does it encourage it. This is somewhat a grey area.”

Since 2009, the sports center is no longer categorized by the local government as an enterprise unit (事业单位), and from then on was incorporated as an state-owned enterprise, the first of its kind in China. This means the center is responsible for its own financial losses and gains.

Liu Tong, head of the center’s management department, told the newspaper that even though the center is fully booked for a year, the driving range is only able to earn at total of RMB 400,000 (USD 64,000). This amount is far from the total cost required for daily operation that includes employee salary, electricity, water and lawn maintenance, and as such requires government financial assistance.

In a country known for building excessive infrastructure and properties, Shenzhen’s golf range solution may provide an answer to the country’s empty stadiums and increasing numbers of uninhabitated ghost towns.

Don’t be surprised if you start to see expensive golf courses springing up in Beijing and Shanghai’s sports centers, after all, it is “somewhat a grey area“.

Photos: Yangcheng Evening News, David Gray/Reuters


PRD News Brief: Yue Yuan Strike Update, Tennis and Golf Winners, All-Out Brawl

Posted: 04/28/2014 10:57 am

giles muller atp shenzhen challenger

Gilles Muller is the winner of last week’s ATP Challenger title in Shenzhen. Ranked 195th in the world, Muller just took 75 minutes to defeat Slovakian Lukas Lacko with a score of 7-6, 6-3. Meanwhile, the doubles title was won by Chris Guccione and Sam Groth from Australia.

Alexander Levy won the Volvo China Open at the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen on April 25. Levy won the golf tournament with a record score of 10-under par 62. Tommy Fleetwood took second position at four shots behind, and Alvaro Quiros came in third.

Four people are dead and one injured after they jumped from the third story of a building to escape police during a raid on a gambling den in Longgang District, Shenzhen during the early hours of April 26. The gambling den was just newly opened, and had attracted about 30 gamblers that night.

Shenzhen places third on a list of the most highest-paid white collar workers in China, right behind Shanghai and Beijing at #1 and #2, respectively. Shenzhen workers make an average of $1,093 a month. Guangzhou rounded out the list at #6.

Zhang Zhiru has been freed after having been detained for his role in organizing the labor strikes at the Yue Yuan shoe factory factories. Furthermore, the Dongguan local government is asking the factory to pay back the workers years of unpaid work benefits as well as unpaid work benefits. However, though many of the strikers have been forced to go back to work by the government, some continue to strike.

Rejoice, car poolers! During the Labor Day holiday from May 1-3, all tolls on Guangdong highways will be free! Sit in traffic with no money down!

pedicab fight dongguan guangdongpedicab fight dongguan guangdongEleven people have been arrested in a huge brawl in Songshan, Dongguan that injured four on April 23. The fight erupted between rival factions of pedicab drivers competing for business.

A man suspected of dealing drugs was critically injured when shot twice by police on the evening of April 24 in Xiangshui, Boluo County, Guangdong. The suspect had apparently been wielding a knife and is said to have resisted arrest.

How long does it take an administrator to ascertain which one of the 893 available positions for public kindergarten in Guangzhou is suitable for the 7,639 children applying for it? Just ten seconds.

The village of Dafen near Shenzhen is responsible for 100,000 counterfeit paintings a year. Workers of the village produce copycat paintings of fake pictures to be used in hotels and other establishments around China.

On April 22, thousands of bus workers of the Shenzhen East Public Transport Co went on strike in Shenzhen. The workers were demanding a more transparent pay system as well as back pay before they were forced to disperse by “violent” police equipped with shields and batons.

Increasing cloud cover today and tomorrow with a high of 27 degrees Celsius, showers expected Wednesday.

Photos: Sina, Sohu


Look out Guan Tianlang, another PRD golfer is hot on your tail — and he’s even younger

Posted: 04/21/2013 3:07 pm

Guan Tianlang wowed golfing fans by becoming the youngest person ever to make the cut at the US Masters in Augusta, Georgia last week.

But no sooner as the 14-year-old from Guangzhou came bursting onto the scene, proving that he’s not an inexperienced amateur, his impressive feat may soon be eclipsed by his contemporary Ye Wocheng from Dongguan.

Incredibly, at only twelve, Ye is the youngest person to qualify for a European Tour event after bagging a place at the Volvo China Open which tees off on May 2.

The Hillview Club member follows in the well-worn footsteps of Guan, who teed off at the same event in Tianjin last year at the age of 13 and 173 days.

A modest Ye, said: “Obviously I would love to win my own national open championship, the Volvo China Open, but I know the challenge is getting ever-greater as our home-grown talent is improving all the time.”

12-year-old Ye Wocheng

The Volvo China Open is headed by a strong line-up, featuring Britain’s Paul Casey, Denmark’s Thomas Björn and Ireland’s Paul McGinley.

2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, said: “I’m especially looking forward to seeing how young Ye Wocheng gets on, and I know that there are plenty of other youngsters who are soon going to be household names.”

There’s either something in the PRD’s waters or there’s greens aplenty in Guangdong to practice golf.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear a new set of young sporting talent is bursting onto the scene that will shape and define China’s sporting legacy.

Image: Volvo China Open


Guangzhou kid to become youngest golfer ever to compete at the Masters

Posted: 03/19/2013 10:00 am

Guan Tianlang

It makes sense that China’s young golfing stars would emerge from Guangdong Province, which is home to the highest number of golf courses of any province in China.  And that is indeed the case as Chinese golfing prodigy Guan Tianlang is set to tee off in Augusta, Georgia next month as the youngest player to ever play at the Masters.

Guan, a Guangzhou native, is 14 years old, which will smash the previous record set by Matteo Manassero, who was 16 when he first played in Augusta. Needless to say, Guan is thrilled to play on golf’s biggest stage when the tournament kicks off next month. From the AFP:

“It’s every golfer’s dream to play at Augusta National,” Guan said in an exclusive interview. “To be the youngest player in the history of the Masters, I feel very honoured, excited, and I’m looking forward to it.”

His hero is Tiger Woods, who he’ll get a chance to play against. Tiger should provide some tough competition, too, as he has been hot of late.

You know that his friends and family in the City of Five Rams will be cheering him on.


Tiger Woods in Dongguan for golf? Suuuuurrre he is…

Posted: 04/12/2011 4:46 pm

Alas, we will try not to get into too many Tiger Woods jokes on this page. But it’s just so easy…

The former golfing guru is ostensibly in our fair city to promote PGA golf, but really, with his background and proclivity for ladies of the night, is there any more natural city for him to choose?

Tiger was questioned earlier Tuesday by reporters about his performance at the Masters, in which he finished a respectable fourth. But primarily, he’s here to promote his chosen profession. From the Canadian Press:

Woods was conducting a clinic for junior golfers later Tuesday before moving onto Beijing and then to Seoul, South Korea. He was impressed with the growth of golf in China, and predicted that Chinese golfers will break into the top 50 in the world.

“It’s been really neat as a player who has come here for a number of years to see the development of the fans and their knowledge of the game and their enthusiasm for the sport,” Woods said. “These fans are certainly much more knowledgeable now.

“The growth of golf has been just incredible. A lot more kids are coming out to events whereas when I first came here that wasn’t the case.”

Tiger Woods

Tiger was actually in Shenzhen 10 years ago, which marked his first visit to China.

If you want to read some Tiger Woods jokes (we’ll admit, many of these are kind of lame) you can find a bunch of them on the Tiger Woods Jokes website.

If anybody has photos of him out and about in Dongguan, be sure to send them over. Especially if he visits the Chang’an Century Kangchang Hotel.

Image: Keith Allison/Flickr

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