Shock as Cape Town Stadium named new Western Province home
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Cape Town - The announcement that Cape Town Stadium is set to become the new home of the Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) has been received with shock by members of a campaign to save the Newlands Rugby Stadium.
The City and the union announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement for the WPRU to become the primary anchor tenant as of February 2021, in a deal that could potentially span 99 years.
A founder of the “Save Newlands Stadium” campaign, Plumstead resident Ellen Fedele, said the news came as a blow.
The campaign was initiated earlier this year following speculation that the union had agreed to sell the Newlands property to developers.
“The news is a devastating blow as we have been trying to raise awareness within the general public and among famous rugby personalities to save the world’s second-oldest rugby stadium.
“It is, however, not surprising that this is happening because money talks, even at the cost of our history. It is sad that because of financial mismanagement, we are set to lose the home of rugby in South Africa,” she said.
Fedele said that they would
continue to oppose the demolition of the stadium.
The Newlands Rugby Stadium is the second-oldest dedicated rugby stadium in the world and was one of the venues for the first-ever Springbok Test series against a touring British team in 1891.
For the past three years, there have been negotiations to make the union an anchor tenant at Cape Town Stadium.
WPRU spokesperson Michael de Vries said details of the plans for the future of the Newlands stadium were still being finalised.
WPRU is set to lease Cape Town Stadium for matches, and is in agreement with the City to build additional suites, a joint statement said.
WPRU group chief executive Paul Zacks said: “The agreement is the culmination of three long years of hard work. There is much ahead of us before we can play at Cape Town Stadium in 2021, with the primary anchor tenant agreement still to be finalised.”
WPRU president Zelt Marais said that it was an historic moment for the union.
“This is a watershed moment for Western Province Rugby as we open an exciting new chapter which will help ensure our financial sustainability and grow the game in the future,” he said.
Deputy mayor Ian Nielsen said the City explored ways to reduce the burden of carrying the operational costs of the stadium and studies found that rugby would be the most viable economic sporting option.