Absa Premiership

EXCLUSIVE | CT City boss Comitis: A man with a plan for a new stadium

2020-04-22 11:58
John Comitis
John Comitis (Gallo Images)

Cape Town City owner John Comitis remains optimistic that the Absa Premiership side will have their own stadium despite the City of Cape Town slowing down the process.

The Citizens acquired the Premier Soccer League (PSL) status of Mpumalanga Black Aces back in 2016 and have since gained popularity in the Mother City.

However, filling up Cape Town Stadium (55 000-seater) and Athlone Stadium (34 000) has been an issue as only home matches against Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns attract those kinds of numbers.

Comitis, a former joint-owner of Ajax Cape Town, has been passionate about building a 10 000-seater stadium since 2017 with hopes of filling it to capacity for every home match.

In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Comitis revealed that with no football taking place due to the coronavirus pandemic, he felt that when some kind of normality returns the stadium project could be just what the South African economy needs.

"I hope the City of Cape Town grants us and pushes all the necessary buttons for us to achieve this, because it will employ 400 people," Comitis said.

"This project has an economic impact of R1.5 billion over the next 25 years. We can't ignore this kind of stimulus in the economy.

"I've been pressing every day for the last two and a half years and I have never let up once. I haven't stopped believing it is the right thing to do.

"It's the right thing for football, it is the right thing for the city, and you know we need a flagship product like rugby has enjoyed over the years.

"There is a process and we can't skip any moves, we have to go through it. To me, these kinds of stimulus projects are what they're going to be looking for now with the downturn and our junk status.

"People aren’t brave when these things happen. When there is a willingness ... I think it should be pressed on by the powers that be."

City will have to share Cape Town Stadium with Western Province and the Stormers from next year after the City of Cape Town struck a deal with the Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU).

Western Province and the Stormers have been playing their matches at Newlands stadium, which will now almost certainly be destroyed at the end of the year, reportedly for housing and retail developments.

The problem with the move to the Cape Town Stadium is that the soccer and rugby seasons clash in South Africa, which creates another hurdle for Comitis' club.

"With respect, they went on and did a deal with rugby under our noses and they’ve given them a long term lease," Comitis said.

"I know we fit in there somewhere, but I don’t know to what extent. So, how is this going to work out?

"Imagine Ajax (Cape Town) comes up (promoted from the GladAfrica Championship) to the PSL as well ... how is it going to work out for us? And this was a Soccer World Cup stadium (in 2010).

"When I saw that, I said to myself, 'hang on a minute, either they (City of Cape Town) have a plan or they obviously believe that they will assist us to achieve our objective to get a football stadium for Cape Town City'.

"They've got to be seeing that, or they're going to end up in a political hot potato with us putting pressure on the City on a stadium that we all want to use.

"We're not asking for any money, we’re doing it with our own money, just give us the right to do it."

 

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