Academy site changed

2014-05-29 00:00

THE eThekwini Municiplaity has changed its mind on where a new state-of-the-art R250 million football academy will be built.

The complex, which will provide accommodation to around 120 boys from all over South Africa, is likely to be erected at the King’s Park Sporting Precinct and not at Hoy Park as originally decided.

The original plan was unveiled in October last year at the annual African Soccerex Forum at Moses Mabhida Stadium, and council said then that they were likely to sign off on the project by the end of that month after negotiations with national government.

David Broomhall, head of logistics at IEC International Football Events — the company largely responsible for the funding of the project — said at the time that the project would be completed within 10 months of building commencing. But this week at the eThekwini Municipality’s Executive Council (Exco) meeting, a five-page document recommended that the committee “approves the alternate site, viz the King’s Park Northern Precinct, as the preferred site for the development of the soccer academy and its related facilities”.

The site review stated that: “Initially, the Hoy Park precinct was considered the preferred site for the proposed development of a soccer academy. However, after engagement and discussions around the strategies linked to the Inner City Regeneration processes, that site has been deemed unsuitable for this type of development and investment. Focus within the Hoy Park area should rather be on social and economic development within the city precinct.”

On the identification of the King’s Park area, which includes the area surrounding Moses Mabhida Stadium, People’s Park and King’s Park Stadium, the recommendation said that there had been a number of alternate sites identified within the precinct, with the northern precinct of the greater King’s Park sporting and recreation district seemingly most suitable.

“This is also in line with the city’s long term plan for future bids [Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games] in developing and enhancing this municipal area as a sports node.”

While the exact plot of land was still not confirmed by the municipality, the document did reveal that: “The current occupants of the site are on month-to-month lease agreements.”

The development is unlikely to affect the rugby stadium at all, as Sharks CEO John Smit confirmed to The Witness yesterday that he was unaware of the plans and that he had not been contacted by council on the matter.

“They might have spoken to somebody else, but they have not spoken to me. This is the first I am hearing of it,” he said.

“The academy will bring every year one of the top international football teams to Durban to play an international game which will be televised to 105 countries and raise funds for the operating costs of the centre,” the document stated. “The centre will be the flagship of South African sport by providing our talented children the opportunity to become professional footballers.”

Construction of the complex is set to happen over three annual phases.

The municipality had not responded to The Witness by the time of going to press yesterday.

THE projected cost of the soccer academy and its facilities is approximately R250 million. eThekwini Municipality will contribute R22,5 million while provincial government will contribute R30 million. The balance of the project’s capital costs and any escalations will be funded by the IEC, who are trading locally as Hoy Park Management (Pty) Ltd.

PHASE 1 – Construction of the high performance centre and soccer academy. Construction of two soccer fields.

PHASE 2 – Construction of sports accommodation. Construction of one football field.

PHASE 3 – Construction of three football fields.

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