Sun, 28 Sep 2003

Sutiyoso opens controversial Sports Mall

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso officiated at the soft opening on Saturday of the Sports Mall in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, and signed the first of 83 spots on the Sports Walk of Fame that stretches along the corridors of the mall.

The Sports Mall concept combines sports facilities with a shopping center. It covers 32,000 square meters, of which 15,000 square meters is devoted to an international-standard basketball hall. The rest houses commercial outlets, the rent from which will be used to maintain the basketball hall.

The controversial mall, built by PT Satria Mahaka, is located in a residential area and surrounded by 600 houses.

Edi, 38, a resident who lives a block away from the mall, told The Jakarta Post that he was disappointed to see that the mall had finally been built, despite the residents' complaints.

"We would have preferred to have an open space rather than a commercial building," he said, adding that residents were worried about the impact of having a mall in a residential area.

Edi referred to the possibility of environmental damage, heavy traffic congestion, and an influx of street vendors and thugs, who usually are to be found in the vicinities of shopping centers.

Residents have long protested the construction of the mall as the land was supposed to have been zoned for general and social purposes. They brought their case to court only to lose to the developer.

"Since we lost in court, we have had to accept the results," Edi said.

Sutiyoso, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Basketball Association, said in his speech that he was aware that the residents were unhappy.

He argued that Indonesia needed such a facility, which he claimed was the best in Southeast Asia. He hoped that the performance of the country's national squad would be boosted as a result of the building of the facility.

Otje Sumarauw, marketing manager for the mall, said that Saturday's soft opening would be followed by a grand opening in January along with a marathon signing of the Sports Walk of Fame, which will have 83 spots for internationally recognized sportsmen.

Among the athletes expected to be immortalized in the Walk of Fame are badminton legends Rudy Hartono, Susy Susanti and Alan Budikusuma, former tennis player Yayuk Basuki and former sprinter Purnomo.

Otje said that Sutiyoso had been asked to sign the first spot as the governor has just received the 2003 National Sports Official Award from President Megawati Soekarnoputri.