Cape Town’s ailing world cup soccer stadium switches to rugby

Almost a decade after South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup a loss-making stadium in Cape Town has been handed over to the local rugby organisation that includes the city’s elite DHL Stormers franchise.

The City of Cape Town has agreed a 99-year lease for the 68 000-seat stadium with Western Province Rugby that will start in 2021, the two parties said in a statement on Friday.

South Africa spent billions of rands building and renovating 10 stadiums for the world cup, attracting criticism that it was diverting money that could have been better spent tackling the country's host of social ills. Most of the venues have struggled to make money since the tournament as most soccer matches aren’t well attended and ticket prices are kept low to preserve the sport’s popular appeal.

The Cape Town stadium has hosted concerts for international popstars including Rihanna and Justin Bieber since the world cup, and has also been used as a home for the Ajax Cape Town soccer team.

"When the directive for the construction of such a world-class stadium was thrust on us as a host of the 2010 Soccer World Cup we needed to make it happen for the economic opportunities and nation-building prestige it would bring," the city said. "The Cape Town Stadium is well on its way to becoming a more financial sustainable entity."

Michael de Vries, a spokesman for Western Province Rugby, declined to say what would happen to the Stormers' current home ground, Newlands stadium. Sport24, an internet news site, has reported that it will be demolished and the site redeveloped by Investec.

The provincial rugby association had in 2014 decided not to move from Newlands.

Siya Kolisi, the captain of the Stormers and South Africa’s national rugby team known as the Springboks, will play in the Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa tomorrow.

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