Plans afoot for SWC stadiums
Cape Town - Now that the 2010 Soccer World Cup is over, the big question on many people's lips is what is going to happen to the country's showcase stadiums?
While many of those in the bigger cities are likely to be utilised in the future, there are fears that many of those in smaller towns will turn into white elephants and battle to be sustainable.
In order to prevent this happening, Cape Town Stadium, built at a cost of R4.5bn, has been leased by the City to a consortium made up of SAIL and STADEFRANCE for the next 30 years, and it is up to this operator to ensure that the facility makes a profit and is not a further drain on Cape Town ratepayers.
Morné du Plessis, chairperson of the operating company, says he is always asked two questions: Is the new Cape Town Stadium sustainable? And will rugby move into it?
"People believe it is not sustainable, and mention the colour of a certain animal, which I won't use. Others believe that the operator got too good a deal, and the City gave away an asset."
He points out that there is no expectation of return on investment for the cost of building the stadium, and that they're only concerned with the sustainability of the operating costs – managing the stadium, maintenance, security, electricity and other costs.
In order to do this, the operator will put on at least 15-20 world class events a year in order to generate income.
He took the opportunity to announce the first event – the Cape Town Stadium Party – on August 27. This will feature the Cape Town kick-off of PSL fixtures and a double-header soccer game, and will also be a thank-you to all those who were involved in the World Cup. It will feature cheap tickets, and the Fan Walk will be in operation.
There are also plans for a Bafana Bafana game, a top international concert and a charity match in November, the Cape Town Stadium Soccer Festival in February and the Vodacom Challenge.
The operating company is also in discussions with local PSL teams, as well as Western Province Rugby, and is hoping for a Stormers v Saracens game in February, as well as a Varsity Cup match, Tri-Nations match and the Sevens tournament in 2011.
There will also be a New Year's Eve event, as well as other concerts and religious gatherings. The Visitors' Centre will reopen on August 3.
Regarding rugby, Du Plessis pointed out that there are a lot of factors to be considered, including commercial and contractual obligations with suite and season ticket holders at Newlands, as well as advertisers and sponsors. "There are also very strong emotional bonds at Newlands."
He said the rugby authorities represent clubs, players and the public, and they will ultimately decide. "We can't hide from the fact that this stadium is now here, and it has to be dealt with."
He also called for the Environmental Record of Decision published before the stadium was built to be revisited, in order to allow the stadium to "push the commercial boundaries" and consider public parking, having a restaurant in the stadium, so that the stadium can reach its full potential. He promised to consult closely with ratepayers and authorities in this.