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Cape Town to get 2010 super stadium boost

Published Feb 7, 2006

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Cape Town is to get a new 70 000-seat domed stadium in time for the 2010 World Cup on the site of the old Green Point track near the existing stadium.

This development gives the Mother City a serious claim to host glamour ties in the latter stages of the World Cup.

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Bid committee chairperson Danny Jordaan said the new Green Point Stadium should be celebrated by Cape Town, as it would accommodate matches past the group stages and well into the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

Commenting on the announcement of the new stadium in parliament on Monday, Jordaan said the new stadium would definitely be on the final list to be presented to the world body Fifa.

“Cape Town can certainly celebrate the fact that Fifa and their commercial partners viewed the city as a destination of international stature and that they would like to keep it involved in the World Cup tournament for as long as possible.

“That would only have been possible with a stadium that has a capacity greater than 40 000. The new stadium has given us as organisers a significant boost.”

Details of the new stadium were to be announced by premier Ebrahim Rasool and mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo today at noon, at a media briefing at the Green Point stadium.

Deputy sports minister Gert Oosthuizen announced the Cape Town's venue for the 2010 World Cup during a sitting of parliament on Monday.

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He said South Africa would refurbish five existing stadiums and build five new ones in time for the soccer showcase.

A total of R242-million had been allocated for “planning for the stadiums”. Other new stadiums would be built at Polokwane in Limpopo; Mbombela in Mpumalanga; in Port Elizabeth; and in Durban.

Oosthuizen emphasised that the new stadiums would be owned by the municipalities on behalf of the people of South Africa.

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The new Green Point stadium would be roofed by a dome that could be closed in bad weather.

The announcement ends months of speculation about Cape Town's preferred venue for the World Cup.

It also caught local football administrators completely off guard.

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The City of Cape Town, the provincial government and the SA Football Association (Safa) Western Province have at various times put forward Athlone, Newlands rugby stadium and a R460-million new stadium in Delft as proposed sites for the main world cup venue.

The proposed stadium would be on par with the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff that has hosted the English FA Cup Finals in recent years, while Wembley, the traditional home of English football, undergoes a major revamp.

Shado Twala, spokesperson for Rasool, said Rasool was expected to announce specific details of the new stadium.

These would include how much would be spent on the new stadium, its capacity, how many jobs the new complex would create and what it could be used for after 2010.

The stadium would help to regenerate what was a fairly run-down area near the city centre, she added.

But can a new stadium be built in Green Point in time?

A new structure on the site of the old stadium would not be a change in existing land use so is unlikely to need rezoning. But any development which has the potential for being detrimental to the environment, which could include such problems as noise or light, has to be subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in terms of national environmental legislation.

The area around the existing stadium has been city commonage for centuries, and has been used for recreation for well over a century.

For example, the Metropolitan Golf Club just opposite the stadium was established in 1895.

The common also accommodated a prisoner of war camp during the South African War.

The EIA process includes a scoping report, which is the initial step and which identifies the various potential impacts of a planned development, including heritage.

It is certain that a proposed major development like this will, at the very least, involve an EIA process that will focus specifically, but not exclusively, on such issues as heritage and traffic.

Because an EIA process includes statutory public consultation and a possible appeal process at the end before final approval is granted, it could take months - even years - before a single brick is laid.

However, the government is about to introduce revised EIA regulations that have been designed specifically to reduce the length of a EIA process and avoid delays.

Environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told the Cape Argus in an interview last week that the new regulations would be published “in the foreseeable future”.

“It is important to align our development goals with our environmental objectives.”

The new regulations would simplify processes but not lower environmental standards.

Although there has been speculation over the past two weeks about plans for a mega stadium in Green Point, the city's two Premier league clubs Ajax and Santos were taken by surprise by the announcement.

Neither Ajax boss John Comitis or his opposite number at Santos, Goolam Allie, had been told about the plan or approached for input.

Safa Western Province originally proposed a new stadium for the Delft/Blue Downs area, suggesting that the aim should be to take football to the areas where most of the game's supporters lived.

Another proposal, put forward by the Cape Town City Council and the Western Cape Provincial Government, was that Athlone Stadium should be developed into a World Cup class stadium.

The original proposal by the SA Football Association national body was that to save great expense, Newlands should be upgraded.

This was the original plan as contained in the body's bid book, with which Danny Jordaan's bid committee won the right to host the World Cup.

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