16 January 2009
Former Dutch Sport Minister Erica Terpstra is rarely short of words, but when she led a delegation representing 37 Dutch companies on a 2010 World Cup Trade Mission to South Africa late last year, she was left speechless by Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium.
“Of all the stadiums we saw, that one is special – it would turn heads anywhere,” Terpstra said.
This week, the last piece of the massive Y-shaped arch above the stadium was inserted to complete the 105 metre-high structure which has changed the city’s skyline.
Like most of South Africa’s World Cup stadiums, Durban is firmly on track to meet its Fifa deadlines. The next step will be the construction of the compression ring, which will give the roof, bowl and arch the strength required to hold it together. Project managers say they are on target to meet all their deadlines.
Cape Town’s Green Point stadium – the other semi-final venue – is now framed by a massive compression ring which will support the glass roof which is now being constructed in New York.
In addition, the grass pitch is already being manicured on a farm in the Boland!
All eyes are on Johannesburg’s Soccer City, which will be the centre of the universe in just 16 months when it hosts both the opening ceremony and 2010 World Cup final.
Again, project managers say they are satisfied with the progress and that the venue is now 67% complete.
All major refurbishments to the Confederations Cup stadiums – the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, and Ellis Park in Johannesburg – have been completed.
Of course, there have been some hiccups. Port Elizabeth is still licking its wounds after missing its deadlines for June’s Confederations Cup, but city officials say they have now set their sights on “the big one”, and that the stadium is 70% complete.
A recent major storm in Nelspruit resulted in some minor damage to the Mbombela Stadium, affecting 10 precast seating beams and one roof bay. However, the project is 60% complete, and is also on target to meet its deadlines.
In a nutshell, the army of architects, planners and construction workers tasked with building some of the finest stadiums in the world (in record time) are producing the goods.
That’s one less thing for South Africa to worry about with the biggest single-code sporting event in the world – let’s not mince words: the biggest spectator event in the world, period – looming fast.
Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010