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Beacon of hope or white elephant?

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Simon Austin | 11:21 UK time, Wednesday, 17 June 2009

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.

The South Africa wingers Akona and Odwa Ndungane, for example, grew up near Port Elizabeth, yet went on to play for the Bulls and Sharks respectively.

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."

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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.


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  • 1. At 2:09pm on 17 Jun 2009, ctmanbok wrote:

    I am South African and must agree these are valid comments. A question I have is why have a Twickenham or Wembley when matches played at these stadiums could easily be played at Old Trafford, Emirates, etc? How much of the year does Twickers or Wembley get used?

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  • 2. At 3:04pm on 17 Jun 2009, offtouni wrote:

    because twick's and wembley were built first (wembley i think it's first FA cup final in 1927/8) and for many many years they were the largest in the country by a fair distance. Combined with the focal point of London meaning that the most number of people would be able to get access, let alone those able to travel and be catered for.

    after that i guess it's tradition that Eng matches are played at Wembley (at least when there is one) and Twicks because they're the home of their respective sports. Maybe not to the same extent that Lord's is for cricket, but they're still pretty symbolic - more so Wembley.

    Also, i guess that twickenham is the only rugby stadium of any real size in England. I know Leicester are expanding, but still nowhere near however many Twickers is nowadays (79,000?), and it'd be a bit of a joke if the home of a sport had to, during the 6 Nations at the very least, tour round the county renting out football stadia that'd cost the RFU bucket loads and would slightly hinder any sense of home-advantage (bit weak, i know).

    sorry - i don't want this to sound like a rant, it isn't! lol. thought the article would really good by the way

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  • 3. At 3:08pm on 17 Jun 2009, Dave wrote:

    I'm not sure how much use Twickenham gets but Wembley certainly gets a lot of use. If you include concerts then it probably hosts more events than Old Trafford and the Emirates each year.

    I confess to not knowing the history of the Port Elizabeth stadium but you probably need to consider that Wembley and Twickenham are old stadiums which were built several generations ago. I know that Wembley was rebuilt at considerable cost but the fact that there was already a stadium there,combined with it's history, undoubtedly had an affect on the decision to go ahead with it.

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  • 4. At 3:09pm on 17 Jun 2009, TheMav wrote:

    In the case of Twickenham it is owned outright by the RFU so it is essentially free to host matches there, otherwise they would have to spend many thousands of pounds on renting another ground.

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  • 5. At 3:14pm on 17 Jun 2009, ctmanbok wrote:

    This town originally had a stadium called Boet Erasmus and was a dump to play in. So much so that international rugby matches were no longer played in the stadium. The difference between SA and England is that we share our stadiums between football and rugby. Apart from Soccer City which is currently being built and will most likley become the home of South African football, much like Wembley, we don't have a specific national stadium for any of the major sporting codes in South Africa. Maybe distance between cities has something to do with that. I go back to my earleir post and would like to know whether Wembley and Twickers are actually paying for themselves and are they used for sufficiently for their intended purpose?

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  • 6. At 3:25pm on 17 Jun 2009, icecoolloosehead wrote:

    Your question is a pretty good one really but for instance Wembley and Twicks are owned by there national sporting organisation like wise Stade de France, Millenium stadium, Lansdowne Road etc although they may cross share with football. Unlike the stadia you named these are owned by private clubs who only release the grounds for financial reasons. These stadia may only be used 6/7 times a year for the international teams and other high profile events such as the FA Cup final.

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  • 7. At 3:41pm on 17 Jun 2009, ctmanbok wrote:

    I would see no reason why this new stadium won't get used at all. I am 100% sure this stadium will allow the city to get test status again for rugby and if the we get a Super Rugby team, then this stadium will be used at least every second/third week of the rugby season. Well here's hoping!

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  • 8. At 4:04pm on 17 Jun 2009, newWookiee wrote:

    At least 6 home internationals
    Guiness Premiership final
    7's tournament
    Premiership double header at start of season
    both Wasps and Harlequins use it from time to time for big home gamesto maximise crouds (e.g. Wasps v Leinster in Heinekein Cup this season)
    Army v Navy
    Varsity match
    takes a turn hosting Heinekein, EDF finals

    that's around 14 - 15 games a year plus it hosts other events such as concerts.
    Overall well used and as stated already owned outright by RFU

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  • 9. At 4:24pm on 17 Jun 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments everyone.

    ctmanbok, I agree. I do think the stadium will get used, because there is such will, from SARFU and the government, to get the Kings in the Super 14.

    What does everyone think? Should the Kings get into the Super 14? What if it means one of the other big South African franchises having to drop out?


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  • 10. At 4:53pm on 17 Jun 2009, Joshua_Libby wrote:

    Nice stadium, especially when you consider it only cost just over one tenth of the new Wembley - it also looks a bit like the old Wembley 'bowl' shape.

    Super 15 has a nice ring to it.........

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  • 11. At 5:02pm on 17 Jun 2009, Jwm367t wrote:

    I heard talks a while back of making a Super XV so why dont they just do that and add the kings?

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  • 12. At 5:08pm on 17 Jun 2009, ctmanbok wrote:

    Well the Cheetahs and Lions were rubbish and have been for a while now. I think one of the spots should be a play off with the weakest Super 14 team of the previous otherwords, relegate the weakest team each year. That should hopefully refocus all the franchises as there is huge sums of money involved if not playin in the Super 14.

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  • 13. At 5:12pm on 17 Jun 2009, spurs_surfer wrote:

    hmmm surely it would make sense for the super 14 to be expanded ir order to allow the kings to play??

    i mean they've done that with the champions league in football!!

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  • 14. At 5:15pm on 17 Jun 2009, icecoolloosehead wrote:

    apart from flying the flag with a national stadia like wembley / twickenham for the two organisations. the question of financial viability is a serious consideration that each orgaisation would address by raising sources of revenue from the sale or lease of corporate boxes there are also fees from concessions and advertising revenues. The question I think you are asking is can the nelson mandela stadium survive without good quality matches such as a Super 14 francishe that could grab the attention of the corporate world to dip into there pockets to make it pay for itself or alternatively is PE and attractive destination for other potential users such as music promoters etc.

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  • 15. At 6:02pm on 17 Jun 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Joshua_libby...yes, it is a lot of money, but great value when you compare it to some other stadia. And I suppose it is easy to be too judgemental - there are problems of poverty in London, yet Wembley was built and billions will be spent on the Olympics.

    jwm367T...there is talk of a Super 15, but there will still only be five South African teams, even if that happened. And as you say ctmanbok, the Cheetahs and Lions would surely be the most vulnerable...

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  • 16. At 6:03pm on 17 Jun 2009, Joe Casey wrote:

    Super 15 does have a nice ring to it but the super 14 authorities are one step ahead of you. I'm led to believe there will be another Australian franchise joining next year making it 5 franchises from each country.

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  • 17. At 6:16pm on 17 Jun 2009, glosglosglos wrote:

    interesting article simon. always annoys me that even in the big games the lions S14 team never manage to get even a remotely respectable crowd. for a country that claims a love for rugby it seems to be ridiculous, and if the ticket prices are to blame in a country with a high poverty level surely just lower ticket prices! personally i think having another SA team would be a positive thing, although if they were to expand the super 14 they would give another super 14 place out it would probably go to the aussies who only have four teams involved. another problem is that cheeky watson's championing of the team probably will do just as much harm as good. whilst everyone keeps talking of change in SA rugby, hes pretty much hated by all white elements of rugby for his and his son's views on the boks. all teams bar the lions and cheetahs have potential to do well, and within the currie cup the cheetahs are brilliant so it would be unfair to scrap them, but if any team were to go i wouldnt miss the lions too much.

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  • 18. At 10:17pm on 17 Jun 2009, numberwanpurened wrote:

    Does anyone actually know the price of a Lions, non test, match ticket? I have heard for years about passion for rugby in SA. Going by the crowds this is obviously over-egged or the prices have been sky high.

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  • 19. At 10:35pm on 17 Jun 2009, Quick_Single wrote:

    Hi guys,

    Good post - a very important issue I think.

    This is just one of a plethora of venues in SA which are highly likely to have serious issues after 2010. Even Green Point in Cape Town doesn't have an anchor tenant lined up.

    It's yet another example of a country being duped I'm afraid by a federation (FIFA in this case, but the IOC are as bad) into building fistfuls of stadia which they have no chance of filling afterwards.

    Some good examples mentioned above, but to be honest, we're not sure about profitability of Wembley yet (a lot of capital to be repaid!) and Stade de France has really struggled without an anchor tenant (needs lots of government subsidy).

    Without knowing the ins and outs of the South African market, I would really struggle to believe that the venue could make money without S14 rugby on a regular basis. Had it been my project, I think I'd have certainly looked at an athletics track too, just to offer another few dates a year. How many major musical acts (pop/rock etc) which could fill a stadium and want to play Port Elizabeth?

    Unfortunately, it looks as though it's in the middle of nowhere(?) If so - makes it very difficult to attract any ancillary facilities - hotel, conference centre, health club etc to generate extra income. I'd be really interested to see their business plan, that's for sure.

    And Simon, the problem is re: replacing another franchise in the S14 - isn't this robbing Peter to pay Paul?

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  • 20. At 03:14am on 18 Jun 2009, Smartjaguarundi wrote:

    Was this investigative reporting really interested in the facts or it is one of those stereotypes aimed at painting Africa as a dead continent as usual?.Its hard to avoid such questions if the reporter's attention seemed so irresistably glued to boys in garbage dumps,where registered black rugby players go to and all other un related negatives.How about the absence of such a facility being the reason for local initiatives in the past for a start?
    If you do your homework,it may surprise you how the presence of such magnificient stadia in most parts of the world have ended up becoming the attraction of the crowds you wonder about now rather than the opposite.A good recent example is China that has shown after the Olympics that it is not only games that attract revenue to such historic venues.It has been reported that millions continue to flock to the Bird's nest and other venues to claim their place in that part of Chinese history at a price,hence amazing revenue flows un foreseen before the event .So,it is logical to speculate on the challenges of generating revenue at this venues after the world cup,but it is unlikely to be correct to assume that the current business models suggested in the article or in response to the article necessarily constitute the few options available after the main event.Iam not sure comparisons to the Wembley and other England settings is really accurate.These are sports facilites in a totally different setting laying a foundation for a new historic dispensation.The future is definitely understudied by the reporter.He did not research enough.

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  • 21. At 06:40am on 18 Jun 2009, Jwm367t wrote:

    I usually watch football more, but when it comes to rugby, I support the Lions (the Joburg ones, not the British) and will say that many of the fans, are fair weather fans. due to the relative success of the other 4 super 14 teams over the past 10 years in all the competitions, many have converted to supporting the Blue Bulls, or Sharks. because the Lions havent won something in a while its meant that slowly but surely the team has lost its once proud supporters. Far cry from the days we had Francious Pienaar and many South African rugby icons. however the Lions have a nack of always snatching 4th place in the Currie Cup and subsequently a semi final match, and thats usaully the only time we sell out, along with the occasional final. the lions has a proud History, so to replace them with the Kings could cause a great upset amongst the fans, both supporting in the stadium and the ones having consigned themselves to exile and only watching their team at home. You could argue prices of tickets, but then find yourself Short on evidence to back this up, a match only costs from the lowest R20 (around £1.5) with the most being R100 (£7.6) with most seats costing half that at R50 (£3.8). these tickets are far from expensive and the low attendance is down to years of poor performance on the field

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  • 22. At 07:29am on 18 Jun 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    capricornRookie...I certainly didn't set out with a negative mindset. In fact, I think the overall tenet of the piece is positive - that Port Elizabeth is set to get a Super 14 team which can do justice to this magnificent stadium. It will be a focal point for black rugby and perhaps for the economic revival of the area.

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  • 23. At 07:36am on 18 Jun 2009, Princerooinek wrote:

    I think you have to look at the bigger picture.
    Firstly these stadiums,Gautrain,road upgrading contracts and the increased tourist services facilities in preparation for 2010 have provided jobs and income for thousands of people who were unskilled and now have skills to offer the job market.
    The situation in PE is the same countrywide as you now have new stadiums
    in Cpt,PE,Joburg,Nelspruit and Durban and don't forget the upgrading on the other existing stadiums.
    Newlands will eventually go as it cannot expand and access is difficult.Western Province/Stormers will move to Green Point.
    In time Ellis Park will go the same way.It is an old stadium and the Soccer City stadium will replace that.Orlando Pirates and/or Kaiser Chiefs will play there along with the Gauteng Lions.

    I don't think Sharks will be in a hurry to leave the Absa stadium in Durban,but it might come in time.
    Along with Rugby all the big football clubs in SA will move to the new Stadiums which will as you have mentioned assist Nelspruit and PE.
    There will of course be other events held in the Stadiums.The climate in SA is very conducive to concerts,rallies sports days etc etc.
    I am sure that the stadiums will be productively used in the future.
    The south african motto is 'Maak a plan'.The IPL was started from scratch in 17 days!!!!!!!!

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  • 24. At 08:13am on 18 Jun 2009, billkaiser wrote:

    "Watson, who turned down the chance of a Springbok cap in the 1970s because of his opposition to apartheid,"

    Why do writers keep repeating this myth? Cheeky Watson was never close to the Springbok side. He was an "OK" provincial player, but never got close to the national squad. He was never even in line for selection, so was in no position to "turn down a Springbok cap".

    This is a myth created by the outspoken Watson himself, and most Springbok supporters who were around in the 1970's are mystified as to why this keeps being uncrititically repeated.

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  • 25. At 09:47am on 18 Jun 2009, Cape Town 2020 wrote:

    No doubt any new venue faces challenges but lets look at some of the facts.

    - The venue capacity is not excessive. It replaces a rusty old stadium that is not even fit for use during local premier league matches. So whether or not 2010 came along, a new modern venue was needed. The bonus?
    Its built a few years after Wembley and at a cost thats an absolute bargain for those who know what modern stadia cost, built in a third of the time it took to build Wembley.

    - The Southern Kings will make the stadium their home come 2011, and before then? The stadium already has an operator which was appointed a few months ago. It is their aim and job to market the venue and to attract events, both local and international events. This is basically a dedicated team who actually want to make the venue a success

    - As for Green Point, it too has a stadium operator and will be moderately successful with or without a rugby tenant. The stadium operator consists of SAIL, the largest sports management company in South Africa and Stade de France, operators of the Stade de France in Paris,a venue which has seen FIFA and IRB World Cup finals as well as other major events e.g. IAAF World Champs

    - SAIL, already own 25% of WP Rugby, so any move from Newlands to Green Point will not be an issue. SAIL also operate Loftus Versfeld which saw its 1 million spectator mark a year or two ago. They manage part of the hospitality aspects of both the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup in 2009 and 2010 respectively. They attract the English teams to play their warm up matches in South Africa e.g. Man United/Man City/Tottenham Hotspurs. Why do you think Loftus is hosting the final of the Vodacom Challenge final involving Manchester City, and always features when teams like Barcelona or Man United visit? Not to mention the many other events they bring to South Africa. These are THE events people in South Africa. SAIL executive director made the final pitch to the IRB for the 2015/2019 bid i.e. Morne du Plessis (yes that Morne du Plessis).

    - Stade de France have the international "know-how" to manage a venue and operate it at the highest level. No doubt they have their own bunch of events they intend to bring to Green Point. The Green Point stadium operator certainly has a bunch of exciting ventures they hope to bring to the venue with or without a rugby tenant.

    While we can speak in "general" about the future of these stadia, the stadium operators have been appointed and are already hard at work finalizing events pre and post 2010.

    I don't see why our venues need to be filled every weekend? Nobody moans when WP Rugby and the Stormers perform poorly and fail to attract decent crowds. Newlands has no authorization to host any other events, be it concerts or rallies and so during a bad rugby season, what exactly is filling the stadium?

    South Africa is using 5 existing venues and 5 new venues which provides improved sports infrastructure in our cities. Its a bonus then that these new venues have a combined cost less than that of Wembley. Just some food for thought.

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  • 26. At 09:48am on 18 Jun 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    princerooinek...interesting about the Sharks. I am in Durban at the moment, and the new Moses Mabhida Stadium looks incredible. It absolutely dwarfs Kings Park, which is right next door to it, and looks very similar to Wembley, with its towering arch. I know that rugby fans and clubs are attached to their stadiums, but surely Moses Mabhida is too great a stadium for the Sharks not to move?

    And billkaiser, I will have to look into that further. The people I spoke to, from Eastern Cape rugby and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, described the situation with Cheeky in the 70s in that way. He is certainly someone who provokes strong feelings in South African rugby...

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  • 27. At 10:55am on 18 Jun 2009, Cape Town 2020 wrote:

    The problem with the new stadium in Durban is the hostile relationship the Sharks have with the city. The issues with the suites and the availability. The possibility of having to share the venue with a football team. Naming rights issues and the use of space around the stadium e.g. retail space already sold.

    Then there's the fact that it has an athletics track around it placing spectators further away.

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  • 28. At 3:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, goatLUFC_OSC wrote:

    greetings from West Africa. There are some well worn cliches about the African continenthere, but also some valid points. However, having watched leeds away at boro in the 70's at their old ground, one can hardly say that we hold the high ground when it comes to welcoming picture postcard settings for football matches.....

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  • 29. At 5:21pm on 18 Jun 2009, Czechmate wrote:

    The birds nest stadium has been surviving for a while as simply a tourist attraction, I think it is also hosting the Italian version of the charity shield. Although not a complete solution the idea of having holding exhibition games between big teams could bring in some money and use.

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  • 30. At 01:57am on 19 Jun 2009, rickyl1974 wrote:

    To quote the film 'Field of Dreams', 'If you build it, they will come'.

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  • 31. At 07:20am on 19 Jun 2009, I want to see Iniesta on a rugby field wrote:

    I live in Port Elizabeth, so it was interesting to read a visitor's perspective on the city and the new stadium. Firstly, to correct a minor error, you said that "Bay United football team will move to Nelson Mandela Bay soon". Bay United was in fact based in PE last season, and played most of their home matches at the old EPRU stadium. Unfortunately, despite recording a number of victories over some of SA's top sides, including Orlando Pirates and Sundowns, they were pretty woeful and ended bottom of the log. There are now rumours of financial difficulties and I wouldn't be surprised to see the team getting bought and moved to another city (a weird idiosyncrasy of South African football, that smaller teams sometimes get bought up, rebranded and moved).

    Despite the white elephant fears, the stadium was sorely needed in Port Elizabeth. The old rugby stadium was woeful. I think in general, people here are very proud of the new stadium.

    The Southern Kings are by no means certain of a place in the "Super 15". SARU (not SARFU anymore, as you state), seem to be pretty useless when it comes to negotiating with their Australian and New Zealand counterparts, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the new franchise go to an Australian team. Despite this, I don't think it'll be long before the new stadium becomes home base to a new team, be it soccer or rugby. The place is just too beautiful to waste.

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  • 32. At 09:25am on 19 Jun 2009, blogbag wrote:

    Personally I along with many others are turned off attending football matches now. Bland, dull all seated stadiums, miles from the pitch, miles from the centre of town, which all look the same, which cost a fortune to get into and to get any refreshment. No wonder the masses in SA are turned off going to games. What was once a working class sport is now the game of the elite and the middle classes, the media and the aristocracy which run the game and play it.They have ruined it. Personally I would rather have grotty old stadiums in the middle of a council scheme with masses of terracing, cinders and sleepers and with used cans of lager for urinals. The real people in the terracing (soaked to the skin) and the snobs in the stand. A game at Hampden Park in the 70's with a 100,000 against the Auld Enemy - now that it is football in a great setting for the masses. Pies and a bit of bother after the game and on the pitch - I have great memories of a windae smashed and a bottle thrown in Paisley when the Ton were in town. Sadly this was put paid to by all the lily livered middle classes with their health and safety, lets destroy and santise the game, lets make it a business, so we can bring the privately educated children and Mrs along, just like rugger at twickers. Oh and lets support Man Utd even although we come from Guildford just cos they always win everything and not the local team cos their in the Rymans an crap. And let share stadiums with the rugger snobs. Sadly this crassness is pervaded by the media. Football is now alien to me and millions of others - we have been disenfrachised by this load of numpties who run the game. Seems that most of the contributors to this have been brainwashed by this big business nonsense as well. The reality is their is no heart in the game anymore its just an extension of capitalism and a disenfrancisement of the working classes. They've taken away heavy industry and now they've taken away football - no wonder the working classes are almost extinct now and have just become neds and chavs.

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  • 33. At 1:04pm on 19 Jun 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    I want to see Iniesta...interesting to get the perspective of a resident of Port Elizabeth!

    When I said Bay Utd would be moving to the Bay, i actually meant the stadium, not the area. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

    It certainly is a beautiful stadium, as you say. I am now in Durban, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium is incredible. It dwarfs Kings Park next door.

    I don't think South Africa will have any problems with its stadia for te World Cup. Looking forward to seeing Soccer City in a couple of weeks' time.

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  • 34. At 1:14pm on 19 Jun 2009, Adam wrote:

    This rings of simularity to the Olympic stadium in London which is due to be 80,000 in capacity, the difference being that they are looking to change the olympic stadium after the olympics into a smaller 30-40k capacity in order to make it more of use for the likes of West Ham, Wasps, Chelsea or whoever ends up taking it.

    Is there any possibility of doing the same with this stadium?

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  • 35. At 2:07pm on 19 Jun 2009, joaquinlive wrote:

    I have a world cup ticket to watch a game at this stadium next year.

    I watched the Lions game on TV and agree that this is a fantastic stadium. It looks a tad like Wembley (red seats and massive white roof).

    But White Elephants are a common theme for World Cup hosts. There are 20 stadia for Korea/Japan 2002 and I doubt all of them are well-utilised as I speak. I also understand that Portugal has a 30,000 stadium in Algarve for Euro 2004 and it's hardly been used since.

    The truth is only countries like France/Spain/Germany/UK can fully utilise massive stadia. This is the price FIFA and the respective government have to pay to share World Cup rights around.

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  • 36. At 01:36am on 21 Jun 2009, ianwrightorbendtner wrote:

    Nice one Blogbag.

    I agree.

    Of course the stadiums will be underused. They always are. All the quangos fool the public of each country into lapping it up. Then they all divvy up the TV bunce.
    The peoples game: expensive to get in,expensive to eat,the food is always rubbish,expensive souviniers.
    Should be called the consumers game.

    Whenever im on 606,its clogged up with Colins & Clives all wittering on about 'Revenues' and the like,who's the most financially successful team and all this cobblers. Like as if football has been taken over by those kids at school with briefcases who played top trumps in the playground and got excited by the horsepower of different tanks while i was busy playing football.
    Last time i went to a football match it was like macdonalds but with a football match in the middle of it. Having a spotty faced,Hi vis jacketed 22 year old tell men in thier 40s and 50s to sit down after thier team has just hit the crossbar or scored is when being a football fan is over.
    When you watch those estate agents,bank managers and office wallahs in the crowd at prem games,you just laugh. They post on 606 about fans being 'plastics'. When you were actually playing sunday football in the days of say 1983,when an middle class desk johnny was scared of people that even liked football,then its just hilarious.

    These people all talk about football fromsay ,the 70s like they know what it was like being at a game. They believe all the rubbish that businessmen and people who have benefitted from the gentrification of football spout. Theyve created a myth that a game in the 70s was a National Front rally where you would be stabbed and then the stadium would catch fire and you were crushed against a fence while trying to escape. Every week.

    Football was 150 times more exciting,fun,unpredictable,closer to real fans than this charade of toilet will ever be.

    Football will end up like american sport.
    Unless its already there.

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  • 37. At 5:04pm on 21 Jun 2009, LazEagle wrote:

    If anything Wembley is over used and English football fans were united in disaproval at this years FA Cup semi finals being played there. If anything the glamour and occassion of appearing at Wembley has been diminished.

    Football:FA Cup final, League cup final, Football League and Conference Playoffs, FA Vase & Trophy, England matches + it has been chosen to stage the Champions League final in a few years.

    Rugby League Challange Cup Final, concerts, an NFL game each year and a motor sport event each year.

    Incidently Old Trafford (72,000) and the Emirates (60,000) have capacities which are lower than Wembley (90,000) and Twickers (80,000).

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  • 38. At 12:39pm on 22 Jun 2009, Natbankofuganda wrote:

    I could say that the posts of commenters 32 and 36 are from a bunch of misinformed nostalgia freaks stuck in the 70s and 80s, that need to grow up. But I'm not, because both posts were on the money.
    The working class long ago accepted that capitalism - for better or worse - is here to stay. But football was the one outlet that the British working class had to escape the grind and struggle. It was a match made in heaven. It was a cheap form of escapism. But as usual in the words of the late Bill Hicks, the money men somehow found a way of putting a pound sign on yet another part of our culture and history. And from there on in, the game was up.
    Murdoch and the neo-liberal establishment, in their infinite wisdom concluded: "Let them watch Sky".

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  • 39. At 1:59pm on 22 Jun 2009, blogbag wrote:

    Totally agree with ianwrightorbendtner and Natbankofunganda. Good to see some sensible posts. The other posts are just completely full of nerdy, meaningless tripe spouted by the usual capitalist, globalised automatons who believe all this garbage about football being the bloodly stock market and not a cultural thing. Needless to say its the media that encourage this sort of tripe as they all feed off it. Would be good if we could have a debate about this rather than the usual bland nonsese from BBC sport.

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  • 40. At 2:12pm on 22 Jun 2009, Cape Town 2020 wrote:

    South Africa is not building 20 stadia. We are using 5 existing venues and 5 new venues. Two of the new venues already have operators with events already planned. Two others are in the process of finalizing the operators to attract events to the venues.

    With regards to football stadia, Green Point is close to the city, with fantastic sight lines that ensure that every spectator feels very close to the field of play.

    I must say the tone of some of the comments is very off putting.
    It seems like RSA is good enough to step in for the IPL, host the rugby and cricket world cup, super 14 matches and other major events, but suddenly when we're upgrading our stadia and build a few new stadia we suddenly appear to be a country with no sports interest who can't find uses for its sports venue.

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