Funds key for Durban’s cash-strapped Westridge Tennis Stadium

Emmanuel Ngema with a tennis racket in hand

Emmanuel Ngema from KwaMashu, a tennis coach at Westridge Park tennis stadium, has dedicated years teaching children who live in shacks nearby. File Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ Independent Media

Published Mar 20, 2024

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Durban’s cash-strapped Westridge Tennis Stadium has resorted to fund-raising campaigns to try to keep the stadium open.

EThekwini Tennis Association president Gary Brown said they managed to raise R34 000 through their fund-raising BackaBuddy campaign.

“This will also help us survive for March as we have also received a loan from the KZN tennis association and some other generous donations.

“However, for April, it looks bleak. We need R70 000 every month to survive and it’s not possible to raise that every month.”

The stadium ran into financial troubles as its main source of revenue comes from advertising signage that is on the property. The signage had been approved by the eThekwini Municipality.

However, the signage company had wanted to erect a digital advertising board and their application was rejected by the municipality as it said it contravened its outdoor advertising by-law. The signage company has lodged an appeal which is still ongoing.

Brown said they have embarked on other fund-raising initiatives.

“We are hosting tournaments and also having other events but it’s simply not enough.

“We need the advertising sign to be erected as undoubtedly it is our main source of income.

“We have 11 staff members. The problem is we don’t know how long we can keep them with reduced salaries and on short time.”

Brown said that some of them have said they need to start looking for other work.

“Due to the help we received we were able to pay salaries but we can’t guarantee that we will be able to pay them or even survive till April.

“We also have security guards that are crucial for the stadium and its resources to be safe and protected. We just cannot risk not having security and we don’t have enough money to pay them.”

Brown added that they understood that the municipality had its processes to follow for the signage company’s appeal, however, they hoped the municipality would be cognisant of the livelihoods of those that work at and use the tennis stadium.

The eThekwini Municipality said they had no further comment on the matter at this stage.

In February, the City said that the signage application was refused in line with the eThekwini Outdoor Advertising By-law.

It said the area is a maximum control area and therefore the type of signage required is not permitted as per the below extract from the by-law: “(a) Only low impact outdoor advertising signs which does not intrude into, dominate, or derogate in any way from the character or quality of the environment, including the visual, social and traffic safety aspects, will be permitted; and (b) Third party advertising is not permitted.”

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