Fans parks provide World Cup vibe – for free

NELSON Mandela Bay soccer fans who fail to secure tickets to watch 2010 World Cup matches at the 48000-seater stadium in Port Elizabeth can also experience the atmosphere at the official fan park at no cost.

Sahara Oval St George‘s, which will accommodate 35000 to 40000 fans, has been earmarked as the venue for the fan park in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, and this has been approved by the council.

“St George‘s is seen as the ideal venue for a fan park as it has the capacity to house the thousands of people who will be wanting to be there,” municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said.

“The ground has shown that it is very capable of housing this number of people during cricket games.”

The fan park concept was introduced during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and proved to be a huge success, prompting the soccer governing body, Fifa, to implement them in subsequent tournaments.

“The metro will only be hosting eight World Cup games, but the fan parks will be open throughout the tournament – for all 30 days. There will be cases where people will be asked to pay if they want to be in the VIP section or other sections that provide hospitality services, but ordinary people will be going in for free. These parks will create a vibe for the tournament and will be the focal point internationally on the days when there are no games played in the city. We want the fan parks to be jam-packed as they will be the main gathering place,” said NMB 2010 local organising committee executive director Errol Heynes.

The fan park will be equipped with a large viewing screen which will run in conjunction with other public viewing areas around the city, with all the games being shown in taverns, restaurants and pubs throughout the city.

“We have not yet planned on the issue of public viewing areas. As they are quite an expensive area, we have to look at the costs that come with it,” Heynes said.

It is a Fifa requirement that all host cities have an official fan park – one per stadium – but public viewing sites can be in both host cities and non-host cities.

The public viewing areas will be spread across the Eastern Cape, including rural areas.

Food vendors who frequent local stadiums are not allowed to trade at the official fan park. According to the agreement between Fifa and host cities, only commercial Fifa affiliates, including Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald‘s, will be allowed to advertise and trade at fan parks.

“Although vendors will not be allowed to sell their goods inside the venue, they will be allowed to trade outside – around Rink Street, Parliament Street and St George‘s,” Heynes said.

Fans will also have a free shuttle bus service to ferry them around Rink, Parliament, Donkin and Chapel streets –- with an entertainment area at the Donkin Reserve.

“We are also looking at ensuring that we have trains coming in and out regularly, especially from Uitenhage, to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of the fans,” he said.

source The Herald

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