Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meet South Africa's new Big Five...White Elephants

Are the new stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a country where football jostles with rugby and cricket for audience, destined to become white elephants after the month-long tournament? That's the 12.1-billion-rand, or 1.57-billion-dollar question - the cost of five new stadiums in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit and Polokwane.

Related:
Going, going...a R4,5 billion stadium for R1
Rates increases to pay for 2010
Cape Town faces huge maintenance bill


The "white elephant" spectre is one that has come to haunt World Cup and Olympic Games hosts.

A little over a year after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games China is struggling to find a real purpose for its 450-million-dollar showpiece Bird's Nest stadium, while one of Germany's 2006 World Cup stadiums in Leipzigalso struggles to attract more than a few thousand fans to third-division games.

With six months to go until kick-off in Johannesburg, South Africa is faced with the possibility that some of its new venues will be gathering dust beyond July 2010.

That the country needed a raft of new and improved stadiums is not in doubt. The country's existing football stadiums were too small and shabby by World Cup standards.

But some of the stadiums are controversial nonetheless.

Cape Town and Durban already had decent rugby stadiums of more than 50,000 seats, which some say could have been expanded to host eight World Cup games each and two semi-finals.

Both cities opted instead for new stadiums.

Wedged between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town's new 68,000-seat Greenpoint stadium has an undeniably stunning backdrop.

But locations like that comes at a price - an extra 1.2 billion rand in site-specific costs to be exact, says Cape Town's 2010 spokesman Pieter Cronje, Cape Town's 2010 manager.

By the time it's finished, Greenpoint stadium will have cost 4.5 billion rand, more than Beijing's Bird's Nest and more than double the initial estimate.

The national government is picking up most of the tab but the city, which like most South African cities is chronically under-funded and struggling to contain violent anti-poverty protests, still faces a hefty shortfall.

And it has yet to secure an anchor tenant: The city's two Premier Soccer League teams have too few fans to fill it and the provincial rugby team is deeply attached to its iconic Newlands Stadium.

Cronje believes Stade de France and local company SAIL, the consortium chosen to operate the venue will fill it with big concerts, operas and other events.

"We believe the long-term advantage will outweigh this extra cost at the outset," he says.

Durban says it was also thinking long-term when it decided to build a new 70,000-seat stadium a few metres from a 52,000-seat rugby stadium.

The port city plans to throw its hat in the ring for the 2024 Olympics and has equipped Moses Mabhida Stadium with an athletics track, as well as a 106-metre arch with inbuilt cable car, to boost its bid.

But that stadium too has been shrouded in scepticism. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the city cannot afford it," Brian Van Zyl, manager of the Sharks rugby team that is based at the adjacent Absa Stadium said in 2006.

Back then the stadium was predicted to cost 1.6 billion. Three years later, the cost has nearly doubled to 3.1 billion rand and the Sharks are coming under growing pressure to move in.

"You have to invest in infrastructure to proceed from being a developing country to a developed country," says Errol Heynes, World Cup director in Port Elizabeth, the country's fifth-largest city, which gained a 1.9-billion-rand stadium.

Although Port Elizabeth has no Premier League football or Super 15 rugby team, "it will never, ever be a white elephant," he assured the German Press Agency, predicting a thriving business in exhibition games and conferences.

Polokwane in northern Limpopo province and Nelspruit in north-eastern Mpumalanga have also gained new 45,000-seat stadiums, each costing 1.3 billion rand. Two schools were requisitioned by the builders at Nelspruit's Mbombela stadium, sparking violent protests.

More protests over basic services also appear on the cards in Johannesburg, which slashed its budget by 1 billion rand this year to cover overruns at Soccer City, the 3.4-billion-rand nearly-new venue for the opening game and final.

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 local organizing committee chief has defended the spending, saying: "All of the infrastructure programs gave jobs to 415,000 people during this period where most people are shedding jobs, so I think the World Cup has made a contribution." - Earth Times

7 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Danie Jordaan is living in la-la land. He gave 415 000 people a job...for how long? On top of that, all the riff raff from the rest of Africa also came a-job hunting in the land of milk and honey and most probably won't be going back anytime soon. What happens now old mighty one? SA are going to count the cost of these white elephants for YEARS to come and thankfully my taxes aren't paying for one square meter.

Anonymous said...

The stadiums will deteriorate like everything else in South Africa - look for the local kaffirs to steal everything that is contained in the buildings , or destroy these useless facilities.

What a waste of money - the ANC is good at doing that!

Cape Town 2010 said...

The CT white elephant has an operator already who will spend R7.5 million annually to maintain the stadium and urban park.

See you at the Stormers Game at the stadium on February 6.

Anonymous said...

What a load of bullshit once again, from stupid, low IQ, racist. Can`t anyone of you be proud for once in your life for what this country (SA) and its people have achieved. Believe me, as a South African working now almost 5 years in Europe, I must admit that life is not perfect or greener on the other side of the globe. It seems that the international world are more excited about the WC 2010 then you are. THAT IS A SHAME! Surely the stadiums will be used after the big event next year, how many people and young kids who love sports (especially football) are there in SA, living with dreams. These stadiums might well get them on the way to compete on international standards, as the stadiums are of world top class, and could be used for training facilities! Who knows maybe you RUGHBY lovers will still find a new home in one of the stadiums, then there would be no negative thoughts or words to be said on that... SHAME ON YOU that you do not seem to give that chances to your future generations, and help and stand by each other as a proud NATION. This attitude of yours still put you light years behind the civilised world! This is what most countries and citizens in the EU learned after two world wars, look where Germany is standing now, after so many cruel crimes that was commited against humanity, it is the EU`s largest economy, the same like SA is for Africa. It is the worlds largest exporter of goods... A nation is reunited after the fall of the Berlin wall almost the same time the people in SA got the chance to cast their first free ballots in an ellection campaign that the whole world supported! I can go on with examples...(but I think you might know of some possitive things to say and mention about your country and its people...) WHY CAN`t you see the changes in your own country as positive and work together to build a better future for all the people of the country? STOP spreading your negativeness (which is like a desease that kills hope) and look for solutions and work towards it if you do not have answers to solve your own problems or miss fortunes in your own personal lives, of which seems to me love is missing!

Angulus Calx said...

Anon
30 December 2009 6:42 AM

Nobody is as blind as he who does not want to see.....

This reminds me of Nero that is playing the fiddle while Rome is burning.

A question: How many houses could have been build with the money spend to build these stadiums?

Islandshark said...

@ Anon 6:42am - Ironic that you call other people stupid considering your composition and grammar.

Your reasoning is so flawed, it is actually a joke.

South Africa became a net importer of agricultural produce (as opposed to exporter) a year or two ago. Now look north of the Limpopo and you might see a trend.

There is already an issue in Durban with the stadium - they are not interested in utilising football stadium for rugby, since they already have world-class rugby stadium. This might very well be the case elsewhere. You can build another 100 stadia and it wouldn't make any difference in the ranking of a bafoon squad managed by more bafoons.

What exactly are you proud of in SA? 25,000+ murders a year? 3,000 farmers and smallholding dwellers killed since 1994? Women being raped faster than can be recorded? Or is it the billions embezzled by criminal Marxist thugs?

The only disease around here is ignorant bastards like you befouling this site.

Anonymous said...

Anon go home and enjoy the country. Why the hell are you sitting in the EU in any event. Liberals are always the first to run off when their ideas bite them on the ass.

Came across many of you while in Australia. Spreading your multi culti crap in your new country again. Go home and live with it!