Legal dispute stalls Pretoria’s Caledonian Stadium revamp
Pretoria - A legal dispute has stalled the planned redevelopment of the Caledonian Stadium in the CBD to bring it to Premier Soccer League standards, City of Tshwane said.
Luthando Kolwapi, spokesperson for MMC for Community and Social Development Services, Thabisile Vilakazi, said new designs and estimates have been completed, the tender advertised and a contractor appointed.
“The appointment of a new team of consultants to review designs is underway. Once this is done, the City of Tshwane wants to move towards construction,” Kolwapi said.
“However, due to a contractor dispute there is litigation. It should be noted that compliance to existing heritage aspects on site will be an important part of the project as determined by the assessment.”
The Caledonian Stadium was built at the beginning of the century and has been the headquarters of the Football Association Pretoria, and the Arcadia Shepherds Football Club for many years.
The then ANC administration approved the upgrading and transformation of the stadium in to a theme park in November 2014, and a service provider was appointed.
The decision was met with a barrage of criticism from the public, and overturned by the current DA-led coalition government in the city which resolved to upgrade the stadium.
At the time, it was said that DStv Premiership club SuperSport United had indicated it would play its home matches at the legendary stadium.
Arcadia Shepherds boss Lucky Manna said the last successful meeting he had with the City about the fate of the stadium was in March last year. A month later the country went into lockdown and everything changed.
“The last meeting was somewhat fruitful, and we were bouncing ideas off each other with the City of Tshwane. We had an agreement to extend our lease at the stadium, and also came up with how we could bring it back to its former glory,” he said.
According to Manna, they agreed to draw up a proposal get things rolling on restoring the stadium.
After the first lockdown, the stadium, which was used to temporarily accommodate homeless people when the country was under hard lockdown, went from bad to disastrous. It now stands in ruins, both from a lack of maintenance and a long history of neglect.
Manna said he had battled for years to fix the facility, fighting with officials over ownership.
His team, Manna said, was supposed to return to practice on Monday, but because of the state of the stadium, they had to look for another training ground. He said he has been trying to contact the City for the last three weeks, to no avail.
“There is no way parents will allow their kids to play at that stadium; it's worse than a pig sty.”
A security guard known only as Bra Jabu said the crime rate was very high in the stadium precinct.
“Just last week they mugged a person at the gate in broad daylight. This place is a gangster's paradise,” he said.
Numerous people were seen going in and out of the stadium building.
“They live here now. It's like a whole community living here, with no proper sanitation and electricity, “Bra Jabu said.
The strong and overpowering smell of human waste was testament to that.
The stadium has had no electricity or adequate sewage disposal since 2012. Also, everything made of metal has been stripped away and at some point, even the goal posts were also removed.
Former Arcadia Shepherds Football Club coach Dennis Maduna said, the side had been forced to cancel matches because the "pitch wasn't in good enough condition."
He worried the dust kicked up from the barren dirt field was "becoming a health hazard."
But Manna said he would continue to fight for the rehabilitation of the once mighty facility.
"We have been at the facility for the last 117 years. They have tried to evict us on many occasions."
According to Manna, the City agreed to give the club a long-term contract in return for dropping its objections to some of its construction demands.
A breakthrough of sorts came in October 2019 when Tshwane said it had allocated R35 million to renovate it.