A new Harry Gwala opens

2010-01-27 00:00

NEWLY renovated Harry Gwala Stadium will be officially opened on Saturday, February 6, with the Premier Soccer League match between Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows.

Tickets for the open stand have been bought by local government to be gi­ven to fans from outlying areas around Pietermaritzburg, who will be bused to the game.

A sell-out crowd is expected.

The official opening at 2 pm will kick-start festivities, including musicians and a game between the local parliament and a KZN legends side, which will continue until the main match kicks off at 8.15 pm.

KZN local government committee member Sboniso Duma said the opening will be used as a build-up to the 100 days to the World Cup celebrations hosted by KwaZulu-Natal on March 2.

“The newly-built Harry Gwala is part of the legacy project and lasting benefit that the 2010 World Cup is bringing to the community of Umgungundlovu. This stadium can be used as a training facility by any of the visi­ting teams,” Duma said.

“More importantly, it will be used by local teams here, particularly Ma­ritzburg United. We have no doubt it will serve as a major springboard for sports development in this province.”

Msunduzi municipal manager Rob Haswell said the pitch at Harry Gwala has been created by the same company, and is an exact replica of the surface at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The company, Turf Tech, has a one-year contract to maintain the new pitch.

“Because of this there is no better stadium to train at for matches at Moses Mabhida,” Haswell said.

Renovations, which cost R86 106 000, include a new roofed western stand, new plastic seating on both stadium stands, new entrance gates, offices, media facilities and a functions room.

The new facilities at the stadium include two ticket booths, toilets, showers and change-rooms, and parking, paving and fencing around the stadium. The pitch has new drainage and irrigation, and the stadium has new 1 000-lu­x lights.

The official capacity is 10 700, plus 120 in the VIP area. The areas to the north and south, where banks have been flattened, can accommodate temporary seating that will take the capacity to 15 000.

Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo said efforts are being made to attract World Cup teams to train at Harry Gwala, such as Paraguay, who will be based in Balgowan, and Cameroon, who are based in Umhlanga.

Umgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said the provincial department of Co-operative Gover­nance and Traditional Affairs paid R80 million of the cost and the district R7 million.

“As we [Umgungundlovu] officially hand over this facility to the MEC, to hand over to Msunduzi Municipality, we are pleased this multi-purpose facility is now in the hands of its rightful custodian,” Bhamjee said.

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