Stadium fit for multiple uses

2015-11-04 12:39


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IT is fitting that the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium was named after this great citizen of Bloemfontein. Molemela’s generation was involved in soccer in the old days before television money transformed soccer to become a packaged product that brings wealth and opulence to many.

Molemela’s generation was part of the golden generation that we need to uplift fittingly as giants, as they provided the means for entertainment and escape from repressive apartheid policies.

Furthermore, Molemela has been awarded an honourary doctorate by the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State.

The R340 million transformation of the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium into the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium has occurred a few years after South African cities, including Bloemfontein, had hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The tournament left behind many legacy projects throughout the country, therefore the government of the Free State must be commended for demonstrating that legacies were not the exclusive preserve of the 2010 World Cup.

Sabine Marschall, in her publication Making Money with Memories,notes that monuments and memorials speak through their symbols, visual signifiers and textual inscriptions.

The post-apartheid government continues to create statues, monuments and murals to speak about the struggle for liberation.

Therefore the name, Dr Petrus Molemela, will be immortalised in our thoughts and become assimilated into our collective heritage and identity.

We must celebrate heroes whilst they are alive, when they share the earth with us and while we can still relate with them.

Today Bloemfontein Celtic is part of the recognisable face of South African soccer. The forever-enthusiastic Siwelele fans of Bloemfontein Celtic are as much an attraction as the team. The fans always ensure that the stadium is packed with spectators, a far cry from the scant stadium attendance that most teams experience.

It is imperative that we consider stadium attendance as a tourism experience that must be packaged and sold to increase the number of attendees at the stadium.

It must be done, specifically and generally, to increase tourist arrivals in Bloemfontein.

We need to look at this boldly and make use of this great opportunity with the enthusiasm that it requires.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in his book Flashes of Thought noted that, “the moral of the story is that we should arm ourselves with a long-term vision, high ambition and far-sightedness. Without a vision to guide our path, and without ambition that knows no limits, we can never build a bright future.”

The rise of Molemela is the tangible attainment of a vision by the government of the Free State.

Siwelele can enforce the legacy of this fortress by making it a battlefield of note. No team must return from Bloemfontein without the despondence of a loss.

The location of the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Rocklands in the township remained at strategic as a means to ensure that the economic benefits offered by the attendees remain an assest belogging to the area.

The spatialities of apartheid planning were designed to ensure that locations remain the periphery of the economic fortunes of a city.

The creation of this jewel remains part of stimulating township tourism.

This stadium must become the site of scheduled tours by tourists that will pay to access the grounds of the stadium and it will stimulate other creative uses for the stadium.

The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is an example of the use of a stadium for multiple uses, specifically the use of a stadium for accommodating tourism.

It offers a range of activities that increase the stadium’s multiple uses.

One of the challenges of stimulating township tourism is primarily a lack of market access related to the supply-chain, and the lack of attractions in the townships due to lack of product development.

Ensuring that locals benefit from tourism requires the adoption of pro-poor tourism principles, and much must be done to ensure that the locals of Mangaung benefit from visitors to the stadium.

Mangaung will benefit from the stadium becoming part of the township tourism route.

However, creative product development may require more state intervention, and also public-private partnerships.

There is scope for using the cooling towers of the old power station to model against the adrenalin activities around Soweto’s Orlando.

There are opportunities for bicycle tours linked to backbackers and homestays in the townships.

In addition the growth of volunteer tourism around the world has become an opportunity too great to miss.

The new stadium has improved the aesthetics of Mangaung and is a jewel of note. It must rise to become one of the must-see attractions in Mangaung.

Maktoum further advised that: “Will you stumble on the way? Perhaps, but we cannot let fear keep us small. We have to be brave to be big.”

Let the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium be big. Let fear never keep us small as an enemy of being brave and big.

) Henama is an old Grey learner and currently teaches in the Department of Tourism Management at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).

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