Big rugby plans for Cape Town stadium
Rugby Sevens fans can soon start packing their biltong for the Cape Town Stadium if Western Province Rugby and the city council succeed in having the major world event in the sport staged there for the next five years.
The city has committed itself to providing funding and municipal services for the tournament.
And the city is also keen to host international rugby Tests and Super 15 games at the stadium. The city and WP Rugby had jointly put in a bid for the South African leg of the IRB Sevens World Series, the city’s 2010 technical director, Dave Hugo, said. “I’m hopeful, but we’ve got to follow due process,” he said.
Cape Town is up against Rustenburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The latest moves are all part of the strategy to get Western Province Rugby to make the Cape Town Stadium its headquarters. The city needs a major anchor tenant that can draw large crowds to the stadium to make it work financially. The city said it was formally supporting Western Province Rugby’s bid to host the sevens series leg at the Cape Town Stadium instead of Newlands Stadium, between this year and 2015.
The city said the IRB Sevens World Series was drawing crowds of more than 500 000 and a television audience of millions in about 140 countries. The event is played in major cities across the globe.
The popular South African leg of the series in George has come to an end, and bidding has opened for the new home for the South African event.
Hugo, who has been negotiating with WP Rugby to have the union relocate to Cape Town Stadium from Newlands, said the bid had to be considered by the IRB.
Western Province Rugby Union and city officials have already started discussing the potential rezoning of the Newlands Stadium ground, a further sign that a move to the R4.5 billion stadium in Green Point could be on the cards.
Zoning restricts a particular area to residential, commercial, industrial or other use. Rezoning by local government changes the regulations for the use of a property.
Asked if the city would pursue the hosting of international rugby Tests and Super 15 games at the stadium, Hugo said hosting such games would bode well for the city and the stadium.
“That hasn’t been considered as yet. Obviously, we would like to have Test matches there, but we would have to follow the process with WP Rugby,” said Hugo.
Western Province Rugby Union chairman Pat Kuhn said discussions were at an early stage. “We haven’t discussed anything in detail. There’s nothing concrete. We’re just discussing the IRB Sevens, that’s all. We’re not discussing the Super 15 and Tests yet.”
Mayor Dan Plato said earlier he had agreed to provide WP Rugby with a written endorsement letter for its bid to host the tournament. “We support WP Rugby in their bid to bring the IRB Sevens World Series to Cape Town, as it is in line with our strategy of promoting Cape Town as a world-class sports destination, and we also know how much Capetonians love their rugby,” Plato said.
“Our success as a host city for the 2010 Fifa World Cup has given us confidence that not only can we host a successful Sevens Series, but that we offer fans a unique Cape Town experience. We urge Capetonians to get behind WP Rugby and support them in their bid to bring us the Sevens Series,” Plato said.
Councillor Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for community services, said visitors to the South African leg of the IRB Sevens World Series could expect a feast of fun and a non-stop rugby party, should Cape Town win the bid. “We will ensure that the Cape Town Stadium is filled to capacity every time.”
l Bafana Bafana have lined up a friendly with Sweden in two weeks’ time which could be played at Cape Town Stadium. According to information on the website of the Swedish FA (svenskfotboll.se), the Swedes will take on South Africa at Cape Town on January 19. The venue could not be confirmed last night.