30 March 2009
Bloemfontein has declared itself ready to host the 2009 Fifa Conferations Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup, with a R314-million upgrade to the Free State Stadium now complete.
Addressing the media at a conference at the Stadium, Mangaung Executive Mayor Playfair Morule said the revamped Stadium would be officially opened on 4 April, when the Cheetahs host the Brumbies in a Super 14 rugby clash, followed by a Premier Soccer League contest between Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates on 5 April.
The South African Press Association (Sapa) reports that seating capacity at the Free State Stadium has been increased by 8 000 to 46 000. In addition, the facility now boasts 100 private suites with 200 seats, as well as a VIP suite which has been upgraded to 650 seats.
The size of the media centre has been increased, while more parking is now available and security features at the ground have been improved.
George Mohlakoane, chief executive officer of Mangaung 2010, said the upgrades cost R9.5-million less than the allocated budget of R325-million. That money will now be used to improve the Seisa Ramabouda Stadium, the home of Bloemfontein Celtic, which will be used as a training venue for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Morule also said measures had been taken to ensure that the Confederations Cup is well supported. Concerns have been expressed about the slow pace of ticket sales for the showpiece event, and about the slow buy-in by South African football fans, who have a culture of making last-minute purchases when it comes to sporting events.
He said Bloemfontein and the Free State Department of Sport have allocated R8-million towards a “mass mobilisation” programme to make sure the stadium is full during Confederations Cup games.
Four Confederations Cup matches
The Free State Stadium will host four Confederations Cup matches, starting on 15 June when five-times World Cup winners Brazil face Egypt.
On 17 June, world number one Spain will take on Iraq, followed by a showdown between the European champions and Bafana Bafana on 20 June.
Bloemfontein will also host one of the semi-finals on 24 June, with the winners of Pool A – made up of South Africa, Iraq, New Zealand, and Spain – facing the runner-up in Pool B – featuring the USA, Italy, Brazil, and Egypt.
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