Having descended on Hong Kong’s swimming pools, barbecue pits and camp sites, mainland Chinese could soon muscle in on new turf in the city.
Football pitches are at stake.
The catalyst is a Shenzhen government decision recently to reclaim the Lianhuashan football pitch for the construction of commercial buildings, which drew widespread criticism from local people and users.
Shenzhen media subsequently recommended several Hong Kong football grounds, referring to them as “value for money” options, according to the Apple Daily.
The media reports detailed the procedures for users to book a pitch in Hong Kong via the website of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Hong Kong has more football pitches than Shenzhen and the fees charged are more reasonable, the reports said.
While five-a-side hard surface pitches are free of charge, there are 191 seven-a-side pitches available.
A 11-a-side pitch is available for HK$130 (US$19.35) per 1.5-hour block compared with 1,600 yuan (US$260.77) for two hours in Shenzhen.
Mainland people can also book pitches in Hong Kong using their travel documents.
Goalkeeping trainer Poon Kwong-tak said he is worried that local users will find it harder to get football pitches if mainlanders without a Hong Kong identity card can book them.
The official Xinhua news agency recently published an article that said football is an extravagance because of the high land prices in China.
Citing an example, it said that if a plot in Beijing is used to build a standard 100m x 60m football pitch, the cost of not being able to build a residential building will be 360 million yuan.
Even if applied to a city whose land price is only one-tenth of that of Beijing, the loss would still be tens of million yuan, the report said.
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