As the infrastructural phase of the 2010 FIFA World Cup preparation project nears completion, concerns emerge around whether the acquired assets, which will cost the South African government over R20-billion on completion, will be used after the final goal is scored.
In an interview with Engineering News, 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC SA) CEO Dr Danny Jordaan assures that the project, including five greenfield stadium projects, five stadium upgrades and the development of associated public transport infrastructure, will deliver maximum returns on the investment for South Africa.
“In a developing country, the most important question to ask when planning and implementing a project of this nature is what the postevent use of the infrastructural investment will be,” says Jordaan. He says that unlike previous soccer World Cup host countries, such as Germany, the US and France, South Africa has had to face a great disparity between what exists and what is required to ensure the successful execution of the event.
“When you are investing to close a gap in infra- structure, the issue of sustainable use and legacy becomes important.”
Jordaan says that, while upgraded stadiums such as Ellis Park, in Johannesburg, the Free State stadium, Loftus Versveld, in Pretoria, and the Royal Bafokeng stadium, in Rustenburg, have been operating on a profitable basis for years, the new stadiums introduce the quandary of achieving a sustainable business model.
“We will not have that problem in the big cities, such as Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. The only two cities that will face that challenge are Nelspruit and Polokwane.” He points out that it is imperative, therefore, that these two stadiums are multipurpose and able to serve other sports.
“The fact that rugby and soccer have a following in South Africa is helpful. This country has also used sports stadiums for major political rallies, concerts and church events. They can, therefore, also be used for [activities] outside of sport,” he says.
Jordaan adds that the OC SA is also working to ensure that South Africa receives the growth in tourism required to sustain the expanded capacities at the airports and the 1 000 additional buses deployed for the purposes of the 2010 World Cup.
He admits that this project has been “a roller-coaster ride”. While the challenges shift from week to week, Jordaan says: “You can always expect a crisis of one sort or another.” He cites the economic recession as the underlying issue, which the OC SA had to monitor closely to assess its effect on the World Cup project.
Despite the challenges, Jordaan says that South Africa, the first country on the continent to host this event, will deliver “a truly world-class event”. He says that Soccer City stadium, in Johannesburg, the venue for the first and final matches, is designed to resemble a traditional African calabash.
“In the evening, when it is lit up, it will look like an African pot sitting on a fire.” He comments that from levels four and five of the Green Point stadium, in Cape Town, visitors can see the coastline as well as Table Mountain and Robben Island, and the entire Durban coastline is visible from the top of the arch at the Moses Mabhida stadium. “No other stadium in the world can offer these kinds of views.”
Jordaan says that when planning the stadiums, the OC SA focused on the integration of these projects into South Africa’s metropolitan areas.
“Our intention was to move away from the concept that stadiums must regenerate some derelict industrial site or be placed in valleys outside of the urban centre. Modern stadiums must be a part of tourists’ destinations and of the international environment. We have shifted the thinking in the world on the location of these stadiums,” says Jordaan.
He assures that the World Cup stadiums will also be safe and secure, avoiding mishaps such as the recent incident at an Ivory Coast stadium, which killed 19 people, and the disaster at Ellis Park in 2001, which left 43 people dead.
Jordaan comments that both events were prompted by similar, yet avoidable, triggers. In these instances, fans arrived late for the match, which meant that there still were crowds outside of the stadiums after kick-off. Goals were scored in the first few minutes of the games leading to agitation as people attempted to push their way into the sports arenas, eventually resulting in stampedes.
In an effort to avoid any incidents, the 2010 World Cup stadiums will have inner and outer perimeter fencing. Only ticket holders will be permitted to enter the outer perimeter and there will be controlled access between these two boundaries.
Fans will not be allowed to buy tickets outside the stadiums on match days, restricting the crowds that arrive for the event to ticket holders only. All tickets will be colour-coded and include designated seat numbers. “This will eliminate the massive movement of people in search of seats. We also appeal to football fans to arrive at matches early,” says Jordaan.
With phase one nearly complete, the 2010 FIFA World Cup project is almost set to progress to the implementation phase, once the qualifying teams are determined.