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Stadia to be run independently

2009-11-06 17:24

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 6 - Most of South Africa's new World Cup stadiums will be run by independent operators after the 2010 tournament to avoid becoming financial burdens.

The showpiece Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg and the newly built stadium in Cape Town have already appointed stadium operators while municipal authorities in Durban and Polokwane are to follow a similar route.

South Africa has built five new stadiums for the World Cup from June 11-July 11 next year and rennovated Soccer City.

Of the new venues, only Nelspruit has decided it will run its own stadium after the tournament.

The Johannesburg municipality has signed a 10-year contract with Stadium Management, a company which will look after the commercial viability of the 94,700-seater Soccer City stadium as well as two recent renovated venues in Soweto, which are to serve as World Cup training venues.

Soccer City will host both the opening match and final of the 2010 World Cup.

"It has been essential for all municipal authorities to appoint operators to make sure their venues are not white elephants," Jacques Grobler of Stadium Management told Reuters.

"We have to ensure a minimum number of events in all the stadiums on a full risk basis. We are obviously looking at soccer being the marquee tenants but also rugby, concerts and conferencing."

Soccer City would have been the venue for the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup but South Africa lost out to Japan in the bidding this year.

The contract to run the new Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town was handed to a consortium jointly set up by South African sports management company SAIL and Stade de France.

POLOKWANE EXCEPTION

An operator has also been appointed in Port Elizabeth, where the new Nelson Mandela Stadium was opened in mid-year with a British and Irish Lions rugby tour match.

Durban, where the 70,000-seat Moses Madhiba Stadium will host its first match at the end of the month, has appointed consultants to set up its tender process.

"An operator will be put in place after the World Cup," said consultant George Stainton.

Polokwane, in the north of the country, is still to finalise its post-World Cup plans for its new stadium.

"Our council are thinking of going that route and should make a decision soon," a city spokesman said.

Only Nelspruit, where the new Mbombela Stadium is due to host its first soccer match on Dec. 20, have decided not to appoint an independent operator and will instead employ its own management team for the stadium.

"We see the stadium as belonging to the community and we want them to have access to all its facilities. This would not be possible if we gave the right to run the venue to an independent operator," said Nelspruit's municipal 2010 World Cup co-ordinator Differ Mogale.

The other four World Cup venues are privately owned. The Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace belongs to a local tribal trust in the platinum-rich Rustenburg area while venues in Bloemfontein and Pretoria are owned by rugby unions.

Ellis Park, which is a semi-final venue for the World Cup, was bought by a black business empowerment consortium in 2005.

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