SA built beautiful stadiums - international journalists

2010-03-01 07:56

THE verdict is out: South African stadiums that were built from scratch, are more beautiful than the previously existing ones that had to be refurbished fr the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

This was the general view among the 120 local and international journalists who are on a Host Cities Tour with the SA 2010 Fifa Local Organising Committtee.

The verdict was out just after three days of the seven-day tour after visits to Gauteng’s Soccer City, Ellis Park, Super Stadium, North-West’s Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba and Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

As one journalist put it as we entered the North-West venue “I expected to see something that says royalty.”

The old stadiums that were refurbished do meet the Fifa standards but they have no grace or anything glorious about them, except perhaps the glory from the past events staged in them.

The Peter Mokaba Stadium is a majestic structure and the main entrance that depicts a Baobab tree – which is very significant to the Limpopo Province – and the seat coordination depicting a mountain range and a rising sun, makes the arena unique.

One cannot miss the giant structures that depicts a giraffe when approaching the Mbombela Stadium and the zebra-colour-coded seats once inside the stadium.

However, Polokwane executive mayor Thabo Makunyane, his Mbombela counterpart Lassy Chiwayo and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, failed to convince the media contingent that proper and concrete sustainability plans for after the World Cup, existed.

In a feeble attempt to answer a question on the subject, Chiwayo said his municipality was “in the process of finalising a management contract with an events management company”.

Another issue that took centre-stage during the visit to Mbombela stadium was the pitch. During the visit, the field was covered in sand and looked ready for a beach soccer tournament.

After conflicting reports from the tour guards that took journalists on a tour of the stadium, British pitch expert Richard Hayden who was roped in by the LOC last year to assist with all the 10 stadiums’ pitches said the first grass had been uprooted and will be replanted from this week and will be green and lush in four weeks and within seven weeks will be ready for soccer to be played.

While Polokwane is ready for a match to be staged, the roads leading to Mbombela and Bloemfontein Stadium are still under construction.

Both Chiwayo and his Mangaung counterpart, assured the visitors that they “will be ready before the World Cup kicks off”.

The tour continues in Cape Town today where Mayor Dan Plato hosted the journalists at a dinner party. The contingent will visit the Green Point Stadium this morning, move on to Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth and end up with a gala dinner to mark 100 days in Durban tonight. 

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