World Cup stadium a hit with tourists

13 May 2011

Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium – previously known as Soccer City – is proving to be a hit with local and international tourists, both because of its status as South Africa’s flagship stadium during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and because of its architectural genius.

“Almost 40 000 tourists have toured the stadium since its transformation in 2010,” says Jacques Grobbelaar, chief executive of Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA), which runs the venue. “The numbers have increase significantly this year.”

Tours of the FNB stadium have been extremely popular due, says Grobbelaar, offering “a first-hand view of the models and main stadium, the ‘ring of fire’, spectator stands, the pitch, players’ tunnel, change rooms, hospitality suites, venue operations centre and the ramps.”

Grobbelaar says the high number of tourists expressing an interest in FNB Stadium prompted SMSA to roll out public tours of the city’s Dobsonville, Rand and Orlando stadiums as well.

Tours of all four stadiums take place at 9am to 3pm from Monday to Friday and from 12 noon to 1.30pm on weekends. Adults pay R80 each, pensioners pay R70, while children under the age of six can join a tour for free. Schools can take learners on an excursion to the stadium for R30 each learner.

Grobbelaar says the facility is the busiest of South Africa’s World Cup stadiums, namely Johannesburg’s Coca-Cola Park, Pretoria’s Loftus Versveld, Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Palace, Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium, Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium, Bloemfontein’s Free State Stadium, Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, Green Point Stadium in Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Flagship World Cup venue

The FNB Stadium – known as Soccer City during the World Cup – hosted the first and final matches and the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament. The facility, held under a 99-year lease with the City of Johannesburg, staged 23 sporting events in 2010, including eight Fifa World Cup games.

It also hosted other major events, such as the U2 concert, with more than 90 000 people in the audience.

Between January and March, it received lots of bookings for concerts, church events and soccer matches. “There is still a range of concerts and events that will take place at the facility for the year ahead,” says Grobbelaar.

Some of the sports that are to take place at the stadium are the Nedbank Cup semifinals and finals, the Vodacom Cup and the Telkom Charity Cup.

“The stadium has to be constantly maintained because of its busyness. For the pitch only, we spend over R70 000 per annum. We work with various private sector companies who assist in general maintenance of the facility.”

One of SMSA’s strategies to ensure that the stadium is used regularly “is to compete proactively for headline sporting events, by building strong relationships with the leagues and sports clubs to encourage them to bring matches to the stadium”.

The stadium

“Our goal is to ensure that the stadium becomes the most sought-after venue in Johannesburg for large events of all kinds. With its iconic status, state-of-the-art facilities, award-winning design and all the glamour and excitement of flagship sporting events to offer, FNB Stadium presents an unbeatable package.”

The stadium has a field of 11 232 square metres and a moat holding 2 670 cubic metres of recycled water. With 88 530 spectator seats and 195 suites, it is the largest stadium in Africa.

Known as the calabash, a reference to its design, which resembles an African cooking pot, the establishment was voted the best public building and best building overall for 2010 in the Leaf Awards, an international architecture competition.

The three-tier stadium soars 60 metres into the air and stretches across 300 metres. Its shape and facade were created from a mosaic of thousands of glass-fibre concrete panels in eight different colours that respond to natural and artificial light to create a glittering effect that lights up the stadium from far by day and night.

To book a tour to FNB, Rand, Orlando or Dobsonville stadiums, visit www.stadiummanagement.co.za or call 011 247 5300.

Source: City of Johannesburg