Beacon of hope or white elephant?
The stadium was the only stunning thing about Tuesday's niggly and attritional match between the Lions and Southern Kings.
This was the first game played at Nelson Mandela Bay, which has been specially built for the 2010 World Cup at a cost of 1.1 billion Rand (£83m).
Its gleaming white façade, based on the sails of a ship, looked magnificent as we approached from North End Lake and inside it was equally impressive, with five tiers and 48600 seats.
There are fears it could become a symbol of waste and excess after next summer's tournament though.
Kings manager Zola Yeye admitted he was worried the stadium could become a "white elephant", because Port Elizabeth lacks a team capable of regularly filling even a 10th of the seats.
This would seem particularly wrong in an area of high unemployment and poverty, where I saw boys scavenging for scraps on a giant rubbish tip as I flew into Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Bay United football team will move to Nelson Mandela Bay soon, but their home attendances last season were often only one or two thousand - and that was before they were relegated from the Premier Soccer League.
There are plans for conferences, concerts and occasional matches involving the Springboks and Bafana, the national football and rugby teams, although nothing that will fill the stadium on a regular basis.
That's why the South African government is so keen for the Kings, who played their first ever match on Tuesday, to gain a place in the Super 14 from 2011. Cheeky Watson, the co-owner of the franchise, believes Nelson Mandela Bay could then become "a beacon for black rugby in South Africa".
"It's crucial for so many reasons," Watson, who is also president of the Eastern Cape Rugby Union and an icon of mixed-race rugby, told me. "We need to find a team to do justice to this magnificent stadium and we also need it to be a focal point for black rugby, which has its heart and soul in this area."
About 50% of the registered black players in South Africa come from the eastern and southern capes, according to a spokesman for the South African Rugby Union (SARFU).
The area has never had its own Super 14 team though, which has inevitably led to top talent moving elsewhere.
Yeye said: "Without a franchise, rugby in this area has gone down the drain and died slowly. If we have a franchise, money will come in, we can buy players and also make sure we don't make a white elephant of the stadium."
There have been previous attempts to bring a Super 14 franchise to Port Elizabeth.
The Southern Spears were formed for that reason in 2006, only to unravel because of fears about their sporting and financial stability. So will things be any different this time?
Watson, who turned down the chance of a Springbok cap in the 1970s because of his opposition to apartheid, certainly thinks so. He points out the interest generated by the Kings' game against the Lions, which was the first in their history.
The crowd was almost 36,000 - the biggest of the Lions tour so far - and they supported their team with passion and fervour. "It shows the interest in rugby in the area," he said. "And we now have a first-class stadium as well as the support of the national, provincial and metropolitan governments. We didn't have any of that before."
The team could also provide a massive lift for a deprived area. Port Elizabeth is the centre of South Africa's car industry, which has been hard hit by the economic downturn, and Gary Grant, a director of the company that runs the stadium, told me the city has the highest unemployment rate in the whole of South Africa.
He believes the Southern Kings can give the city a sense of pride and worth and also be the focal point for economic rejuvenation. The Kings' Super 14 ambitions would mean another South African franchise - the Bulls of Pretoria, the Sharks of Durban, Bloemfontein's Cheetahs, the Lions of Johannesburg or Cape Town's Stormers - having to drop out of the competition though, which is obviously controversial.
Watson believes this is a price worth paying and is "feverishly preparing" the Kings' tender for Super 14. And he is confident the city will soon have a team to match its great stadium.