20 November 2008
Construction at Johannesburg’s Orlando Stadium, to be used as a training venue during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, has been completed.
The R280-million revamp of the stadium, which began in May 2006, involved kitting out the multi-functional facility with hospitality facilities that can accommodate 120 suites, conference facilities, a gymnasium, fan shop, offices and security facilities.
The seating capacity has been increased from 24 000 to over 40 000, and the stadium will be now able to cater to cater to both soccer and rugby matches, as well as community gatherings and music concerts.
“When the soccer spectacle has come and gone, there must be something of value that is there for all to see and point at,” Johannesburg council chairperson Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said this week.
The surrounding communities have benefited from the upgrades too, with well-lit footways from Orlando and Mlamlankunzi stations improving safety and security for commuters and over 2 200 jobs were created with skills in carpentry, bricklaying, plastering and painting being transferred.
The Johannesburg municipality hopes that Orlando Stadium will in the future represent a change in Soweto’s skyline that will be seen as a reference point for all tourists and soccer lovers.
The new stadium gets its first taste of football action on Saturday, when home team Orlando Pirates play Thanda Royal Zulu in a Premier Soccer League match. This will be followed by Moroka Swallows versus Platinum Stars on Sunday, and locals Kaiser Chiefs against Golden Arrows on 26 November.
Executive director of the city’s 2010 unit, Sibongile Mazibuko, told reporters that they had been working with the South African Police Service, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department and the city’s disaster management unit to ensure that the weekends PSL games were safe, manageable and enjoyable to all.
“We will not be filling the stadium to its capacity of 40 000, but will only be allowing about 30 000 spectators due to the fact that this will be the first test for the stadium,” said Mazibuko.
Responding to questions on the role and management of the stadium post-2010, Mayathula-Khoza explained that a public tender had been put out for a company to manage the stadium independently after the tournament.