Green Point stadium's a thing of great beauty

The tunnel leading to the Green Point stadium pitch is a skeleton of exposed pipes, wires and bare concrete pillars, but in just six months' time it will be complete and officially handed over to Fifa.

During a tour of the building site this week, I imagine slick, shiny surfaces and a myriad rooms and corridors in the bowels of the building where soccer players will prepare before one of the eight World Cup matches scheduled for Cape Town next year.

Like many Capetonians I had not ventured down to Green Point since work began - not even down to the Promenade for a walk.

My first view of the stadium is from the bus taking the media to witness the official start to the year-long countdown. In 52 weeks' time, the cream of world soccer will play here, but on Thursday President Jacob Zuma, Premier Helen Zille, Mayor Dan Plato and the stadium workers were the stars of the show.

The president symbolically set the one-year countdown clock ticking by skilfully kicking a soccer ball over the heads of the gathered journalists.

Zuma had also taken a swipe at the media, saying journalists had been sceptical that the country would be able to host the event.

Hours earlier more than 100 journalists and photographers had been shuttled to the Green Point Stadium Visitors Centre.

The old stadium appears very small and insignificant next to the new, modern one. From there we walk a short distance to the new stadium. I've seen scores of beautiful pictures of the new stadium, but I find myself gawking as I emerge from the gloom of the tunnel and on to the pitch.

The world-class pitch is being grown on a farm in Stellenbosch and will be transplanted in the next few months.

To my right hundreds of construction workers are on the precast stands waiting for the president. One is dressed in a white suit and orange tie, a few are wearing ANC T-shirts.

Zuma thanks the more than 2 000 workers who have beavered away at building the R4,4-billion world-class venue.

A number of cranes are still stationed around the perimeter as the glass "roof" is still being installed.

Although 30 percent of the work is still to be completed, the stadium is a work of beauty.

I look up and walk in a small circle, marvelling at the architectural and engineering feat. From outside the stadium has sexy curvy lines reminding one of the Atlantic Ocean which it overlooks.

From a distance it looks to me like a large sailor's hat, which is rather apt for Cape Town being a port city.

Inside the effect of the wavy lines is evident and as the wave peaks so too does the third tier of seating.

A handful of the 68 000 spectators are going to have great views, I muse. They will be far from the action, but will have a bird's eye view while watching on giant television screens.

Will anyone be able to see Robben Island, the ocean and the mountain, I wonder aloud. Another journalist laughs and says: "From outside, yes".

Glass-front VIP hospitality rooms are between the second- and third-tier seating. These must still be outfitted with Fifa- regulated furniture and all the mod-cons.

No matter what the weather, fans will be protected by a technological marvel - a glass overhang which will also allow light to stream in.

I stare in wonder at the structure.

Many of the 16mm laminated sheets must still be fitted and the structure will rest on the 600-ton inner tension ring that connects the roof via 72 radial cables.

As the ceremony ends one of the workers, Luyanda Vanga, sums up the mood of the proud workers.

"We are very, very proud and happy. It's almost done."

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