Touring Joburg’s stadium masterpiece

23 August 2010

Johannesburg visitors and residents who are keen on seeing the architectural masterpiece that is Africa’s biggest stadium – known as Soccer City during the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, since renamed FNB Stadium – can now take a guided tour of the city’s famous “African calabash”.

Soccer City was the flagship stadium for the World Cup, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and the first and final games.

It is the largest sports stadium in Africa, with a seating capacity of up to 94 700. Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt is the second-largest, with a seating capacity of 86 000, followed by Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, which can seat 80 000.

The original stadium was called FNB Stadium. It was demolished and rebuilt at a cost of R3.8-billion, designed to resemble an African calabash sitting on a pit of fire, for the World Cup.

During that tournament, it was called Soccer City, as Fifa does not allow brand names other than official cup sponsors at World Cup venues. The stadium has now reverted to its original name of FNB Stadium until 2014.

A number of major events have already been held at the stadium since the end of the World Cup on 11 July, including the Telkom Charity Cup and a friendly international between Bafana Bafana and Ghana. The Springboks began the home leg of their Vodacom Tri-Nations rugby campaign at the stadium, playing New Zealand on Saturday, 21 August.

Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA), managers of the venue, has been conducting tours of the stadium since the beginning of the year. By 20 May, about 35 000 people had toured the stadium, with the demand increasing since the World Cup ended.

“We intend to offer completely enjoyable, comfortable and informative tours that will ensure that customers are thoroughly satisfied and appreciative at the end of their trip,” said SMSA spokesperson Brescia Bianco-Badenhorst.

Tours are conducted by professional, well-informed tour guides. A tour is 60 to 90 minutes long, with one tour guide accommodating up to 30 guests. Groups of more than 30 people are split up into smaller groups.

On the tour, visitors see scale models of the Nasrec precinct and the stadium; the walkway; the concourses and seated areas; pitch level and the players’ tunnel; the change rooms; and warm-up areas.

They are also taken to the mixed zone areas and the western side of the stadium, where the VIP and VVIP areas, suites and private suites are situated; the venue operations centre; as well as the upper concourses and the upper seated level.

Tours cost R80 per person, with family packages available at R160. The family packages are for three children under the age of 16 years accompanied by two adults.

Bookings can be made e-mailing enquiries@stadiummanagement.co.za or by calling +27 (0)11 247 5300. Tours run from Monday to Friday at 9am, 10.30am, 12 noon, 1.30pm and 3pm. Weekend tours are at 12 noon and 1.30pm. Payment must be made in cash on the day of the tour.

Source: City of Johannesburg