The construction plan for the Taipei Dome Complex proposed by the Farglory Group was strongly criticized by local residents at a seminar Saturday morning, as they asserted that the real intention is to make a profit from the commercial facilities that have been included in the plan.
According to Farglory's plan, the Taipei Dome Complex, or Taipei Culture and Sports District, will occupy about 18 hectares in the bustling Xinyi district and will include a 40,000-seat indoor stadium, hotels, department stores, shopping center and office buildings.
The complex, located on the site of the Songshan Tobacco Factory,is scheduled to be completed in 2010. But opposition to the projects and doubts expressed by local residents have made it difficult for the group to proceed.
Although the Farglory Group said at the seminar that Taiwan needs an indoor baseball park to foster the development of the sport,residents living close to the project rebutted that the area designated for commercial buildings is about double that for the sports dome.
"We are not opposed to the construction of a sports arena, but we do not want those commercial buildings," said Lin Hsue-fang, a member of an alliance that is advocating the Songshan Tobacco Factory site should be converted into a forest park instead of a shopping area.
But the Farglory representatives insisted that in order to maintain the proper operation of the stadium, a larger area would have to be dedicated to commercial enterprises.
The Songshan Tobacco Factory was constructed in 1937 under Japanese colonial rule. It was designated as a historical monument by the Taipei City Government in 2001.
"Farglory should not use baseball as an excuse. If we suffer a setback in our baseball games at the Olympics, a sumptuous dome is not what would make a difference, but rather an open space for everyone," Lin argued.
Local residents also worry that the establishment of a stadium in that area will result in heavy traffic congestion in the already busy district, and are contenting that the choice of location was poor.
"Currently, parking lots within 300 meters of the planned dome are already about 80 percent full on holidays, how can you expect that there will be no problem with tens of thousands people getting out in the future? " asked Lee Chin-yuan, a Kuomintang Taipei City Councilor, who was at the seminar.
The Farglory Group signed a contract with the Taipei City Government in 2006 for the BOT (build-operate-transfer) project. With the price of raw materials on the increase, the cost of the project is expected to reach NT$25 billion (US$800 million), according to the Farglory Group.