Absa Premiership

CT City a step closer to building own stadium

2018-01-18 08:14
John Comitis (Gallo Images)

Greenpoint - Cape Town City owner John Comitis has revealed that they are edging closer to owning and revamping Hartleyvale Stadium.

Since purchasing and relocating the club - formerly known as Mpumalanga Black Aces - to the Mother City, the Citizens have over-achieved by claiming the 2016/17 Telkom Knockout crown while also finishing third on the Absa Premiership log.

This season, the Benni McCarthy-coached side are gunning for league honours as they currently occupy third-place, four points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.

Besides chasing silverware, Comitis has always been vocal about the club owning their very own stadium.

On Wednesday, at a press conference held for the upcoming Ikapa derby clash against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday (kick-off at 15:30), the former Urban Warriors boss told reporters that a deal is in place for the club to own the Hartleyvale grounds.

"I have a signed lease in my hand, we are going full speed ahead," Comitis said.

"We want Capetonians to be the first city that can come and watch their team in the future at its own stadium with its own personal signature on it, so they feel part of something that they can see and touch.

"That experience has eluded South African football and is the experience that rugby and cricket has had for many years. Hence, I think, it's the reason why a rugby event has so much social involvement with off-the-field hospitality and corporate involvement.

"Because there is a base to work from. Those are things we hope to improve and change for the football fraternity."

City have had their fair share of venue issues as they had to play a home game in Durban last month due to the unavailability of both Cape Town Stadium and Athlone Stadium.

"The precinct has to have sustainability, which is what all our stadiums lack in South Africa," he continued.

"We build these fantastic stadiums and we don't work out before how we are going to sustain them. Then we are continuously fighting with everybody, wanting to rent the thing out at astronomical fees to make it sustainable.

"You can't build a stadium without a commercial element and you can't make it work unless you have taken care of that. Inherently, on football clubs' books, the stadium is the biggest burden of their assets.

"That has been the focus of my design and intention, to ensure we do not depend on the city for anything, that it sustains itself, and that it manages itself."

Comitis says that the idea is to build a 10 000-seater stadium and create a real football experience for Capetownians and football fans.

"It must give a lifestyle opportunity and a change for the fans, and an experience that takes the match from a one-and-a-half-hour event to a six-hour event, so that there is an experience being part of this club,” Comitis said.

"If we get this right, it will be a 10 000-seater stadium. So, you will have to get your season ticket for big games, because we have no intention of moving (to bigger venues), we will play any team there."

Hartleyvale is frequently used by the lower league sides and Comitis says that they are prepared to help the clubs find a new venue to play their matches.

"The pitch was used on a pay-and-play basis, we want to participate with those clubs to assist them at a couple of fields further down (the road). So that they have adequate facilities,” the City boss added.

"We want to make sure that football continues, we are here to grow the sport and not make it difficult for clubs, so we will certainly participate in assisting our neighbours to ensure they have adequate facilities to work with."

Before building the stands, Comitis said that there are plans in place to improve the pitch so that training can take place.

"We can safely say we now have a lease that we can start training on,” he added.

“It is going to take us R200 000 to R300 000 to get the pitch to the level we need. But at least we have a base to train from."

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