Johannesburg – Pretoria stadium Loftus Versfeld will become the first of 10 venues for the 2010 World Cup to open for action when it hosts a Premier Soccer League match on Saturday.
The stadium’s renovation has been completed, including the installation of a new roof on one of its four stands, ahead of the World Cup finals next year, South African organising committee officials said on Wednesday.
Its capacity has been increased from 45,000 to 50,000.
The venue, first built in 1906, is also one of four stadiums to be used for the Confederations Cup, the eight-team warm-up event to be hosted in South Africa from June 14-28.
Renovations at the other three venues — Ellis Park in Johannesburg and stadiums in Bloemfontein and Rustenburg — were supposed to be completed last year but are still weeks away from being operational, officials said.
Loftus Versfeld will host Saturday’s match between Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows. It is also the home ground of rugby’s Blue Bulls and is the venue for a test between the touring British Lions and South Africa’s Springboks on June 27.
The six other 2010 World Cup stadiums are due to be completed by the end of this year. source sports 24
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is confident that the stadium in Port Elizabeth will be complete by the March 2009 deadline set by Fifa, after the city’s readiness to host the 2009 Confederations Cup was brought into question earlier this year.
“Although the initial target set for completion of the stadium was set for December 2008, it has been extended to March 2009 and we are on track,” Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s 2010 World Cup executive director Errol Heynes told fellow host city representatives, the French Trade Commission and members from the French Embassy in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Heynes said outstanding development included roadwork around the stadium, the general finishing off of the west wing, insulation of information technology (IT) items, and landscaping and fencing.
The municipality will host eight matches during the world cup at the 48 000-seater stadium, which is situated about one kilometre from the beach front and right on the banks of a lake, which he said.
This allowed for enormous potential for growth and development, he said.
“We see the stadium as a catalyst for the building of a new economic node in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality,” Heynes said, adding the World Cup would significantly benefit small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in terms of job creation, economic and skills development.
Public transport legacy
As for creating a public transport system capable of dealing with the influx of thousands of visitors, Heynes said the municipality would procure 450 buses as well as 2 000 mini-buses for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which involves the creation of a dedicated bus lane within the city.
To avoid creating tension with existing taxi bosses, the municipality came up with a unique idea of giving taxi organisations ownership in the BRT system in order to avoid people losing their livelihood and in the interests of harmonising existing business with infrastructure development.
Five road projects in and around Port Elizabeth have been completed, and a tender has been put out for an access road project, while a public transport operations plan was also firmly in place.
Heynes pointed out that some of the challenges facing the municipality included the limited number of contractors within the municipality, securing environmental impact assessments for projects and capacity constraints in the delivery of the BRT system.