Cape Town - After a two-year delay, caused by problems with the main construction contractor Filcon Projects, the City of Cape Town on Wednesday welcomed the first athletes to the R85 million Green Point Athletics Stadium.
“At last,” said mayor Patricia de Lille, as she officially opened the 4 500-capacity stadium that includes a state-of-the-art cobalt blue tartan track.
The stadium, which will cost an estimated R80 000 a month to maintain, has three anchor tenants - Lions’ Club, Cape Peninsula University of Technology Athletics Club and the Western Province Athletics Federation.
“The Green Point Athletics Stadium is now a world-class facility that has met the technical standards set by the International Association of Athletics Federations.”
It will host its first international event in April when more than 120 international triathletes will be in Cape Town for the World Triathlon Series.
De Lille said it would also be accessible to schools and a range of athletic events. “The scale and the quality of this stadium will mean that schoolchildren will be be able to perform on the same track as Olympic athletes.”
The city was left with egg on its face when the stadium did not open as scheduled in February 2013.
Construction started in 2012, but last year the city was forced to cancel the project’s construction contract because the company, Filcon Projects, had applied for business rescue and could not meet its obligations. The stadium was one of several government projects, with a combined value of almost R400m, that had to be cancelled or delayed when Filcon ran into financial difficulty.
The facility remained unused for almost two years while the city attended to construction snags that were neglected by Filcon.
Jakes Jacobs, president of the Western Province Athletics Association, said the new facility would provide “great relief” for the sport which was battling with a packed events calendar.
Belinda Walker, mayoral committee member of community services and special projects, said the stadium was the “last piece of our 2010 vision”. The site was handed to the contractor in 2007, as part of the work done on the Cape Town Stadium in preparation for the World Cup.
She alluded to the construction delays, saying that De Lille had cracked the whip to ensure that officials got the project finished by this month, in time for the triathlon event.
Debbie Alexander, of Triathlon South Africa, said it would be the first time the World Triathlon Series would finish at an athletics stadium. “This is Cape Town’s own colosseum.”
Olympic medallist long-distance runner Elana Meyer said the venue would inspire many young athletes. She recalled running at the old stadium, with its red track, as a youngster.
Gert Bam, director of sports, recreation and amenities, said the city had budgeted R80 000 a month for maintenance costs, but that it would take a year to gauge what the running costs would be.
As a community amenity, it was unlikely that the stadium would turn a profit and athletics clubs and schools will pay a tariff to use the venue. The upkeep of the facility would be subsided by ratepayers.
“The return on the investment that we have made will only be visible if people make use of the opportunity that we have created. This athletics stadium belongs to the people,” said De Lille.