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Pretoria - Upgrades to the HM Pitje Stadium were meant to be a 2010 soccer World Cup legacy project for the people of Mamelodi. However, the greatest sporting event ever held on African soil is now a distant memory, with this year’s edition kicking off in Brazil last Thursday… and the Mams stadium is still not ready.
Since the upgrading of the stadium started in 2006, the capital city and the Gauteng provincial government have pumped more than R20 million into the project. But since then there have been delays and problems with construction which may see the stands having to be rebuilt. This may take two more years – or even longer.
City of Tshwane spokesman Selby Bokaba said the metro was exploring the option of a public-private-partnership to see the job through. He said the provincial government was responsible for all the renovations and challenges that faced the stadium leading up to the World Cup.
The city had limited input in the project at the time, and the facility was only handed over after the World Cup had ended.
“Upgrading of the stadium will take approximately two calendar years, with the completion date reliant on the approval and budget availability,” he said.
The 25 000-seater stadium stands empty, unused and viewed by many as more of a construction site than the legacy project it was intended to be. In the build-up to the 2010 World Cup, seven base camps were approved across the capital city, among them the stadium, named after first Mamelodi mayor Hezekiel Mothibe Pitje. The others were the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre in Hatfield, Southdowns College as well as Caledonian, Pilditch, Laudium and Eersterus stadiums.
Before then, HM Pitje was a part-time home ground of current Absa Premiership title holders Mamelodi Sundowns, who now play at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
At one stage, Sundowns considered buying the stadium from the City of Tshwane, to return the club to its ancestral home and develop it to suit its needs.
A report on enhancing sport through the development and preparation of 2010 sport facilities by the Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture listed an allocation of R21.75m to bring HM Pitje Stadium up to Fifa standards.
The plan was that a World Cup team staying at the Protea Hotel Waterfront would train there.
The long-term plan for the department was to create legacy projects which would serve the population of Gauteng beyond 2010 and promote competitive sport within the region by creating suitable infrastructure for the elevation of sport, participants and supporters.
However, an assessment to determine compliance with general building regulations was completed last year. It identified defects in the seating arrangements which were done in anticipation of 2010. The slope of the main pavilion was found to be too steep, creating an unsafe feeling.
These will require more than R1m to rectify.