CAPE TOWN – A move for Western Province Rugby from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium could be imminent.
In response to questions by Weekend Argus on when upgrades would be made to the stadium, WP Rugby Football Union president Thelo Wakefield said: “We do not think it is necessary at this time. Why spend money on Newlands now if a move to Cape Town stadium is imminent?”
Wakefield said talks were being held with the City of Cape Town but would not divulge the nature of them, adding that they were confidential and a media statement would be released at “the opportune time”.
Talks on a possible move were not new but with the news that Cape Town Stadium would host Rugby World Cup 2023 matches (if the tournament was awarded to South Africa), the future of Newlands was once again on the table.
“We are confident we will strike a deal,” said Wakefield. “Come 2023, this would be in place already.”
According to SA Rugby, it selected the “most modern and user-friendly venues at South Africa’s disposal, and the Cape Town Stadium fell in this category”.
The World Cup was expected to inject more than R26 billion into South Africa’s economy, and SA Rugby boss Jurie Roux has defined hosting the event as a major boost for the country and for rugby.
Wakefield said he was confident that there would be no financial losses to WPRFU.
Three years ago, safety issues at the Newlands stadium came under scrutiny.
The stadium had to jack up its facilities by, among other things, ensuring that there were 48 turnstiles for 48000 spectators and a helicopter landing pad.
Major upgrades were made to the stadium in preparation for the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Wakefield said the safety matters had been implemented and a safety and security certificate issued. “The helicopter pad is on the top floor of the parking garage in Boundary Road and was there all the time.”
At Cape Town stadium, plans would be made to provide corporate hospitality suites in line with those in other nations which were modelled on larger business lounges as opposed to multiple small suites.
The City said the stadium had 68 suites and a business lounge that could accommodate 2 100 people.
“There are also hospitality options in the precinct where temporary hospitality facilities can be erected,” it added.
South Africa is the favourite to host the event, with the official announcement to be made on November 15.
Although the selection is through a secret ballot, it was understood South Africa has the support of New Zealand and Wales.