‘Amazing’ stadium progress

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This is the conclusion of the Fifa and the 2010 Organising Committee after a 10-day inspection tour of all ten World Cup stadiums.

“Overall we are happy with what we have seen in the facilities. Very encouraging progress has been made in particular at the six new stadiums since the last visits. They will be amazing football jewels in 2010. The great engagement from the cities proves that we are on the right track”, said Ron DelMont, head of Fifa’s South Africa Office, who led the inspection delegation with Derek Blanckensee, SALOC’s acting Chief Competitions Officer.

“It was very heartening not only to see the tremendous construction progress, but also the level of planning in and around the stadiums. We examined in great detail the functional use of all the spaces and access routes of all the constituent groups involved in a Fifa World Cup and there was a great correlation between what Fifa expected and what the cities’ various technical experts have provided,” said Blanckensee.

Some challenges were identified, particularly concerning the refurbishments in Pretoria /Tshwane and Bloemfontein/Mangaung, both venues for next year’s Fifa Confederations Cup which kicks off in less than nine months.

The issues lay mainly in the interpretation of the Fifa infrastructural requirements, which have been addressed in the operational meetings with the cities.

There is still much work to do, but the delegation is optimistic that the necessary solutions will be found and actioned in time to put on a world-class event next year. The two other FifaConfederations Cup venues, Ellis Park and Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, are well on track to meet Fifa requirements and deadlines.

During the inspection the group also witnessed a milestone at Soccer City, as the first panels of the iconic African calabash (shell), which will wrap around the stadium, were placed on the outside of the venue hosting the 2010 opening match and final.

Lavish praise was heaped on Soccer City by Horst R Schmidt, Fifa Consultant and former organiser of the 1974 and 2006 Fifa World Cups, who joined the inspection tour at Soccer City and in Polokwane.

“I think that Soccer City is one of the most exciting sites I’ve ever seen in my sporting life,” he said.

He stressed, however, that vigilant attention to every detail was now required in all host cities and that all stakeholders now clearly needed to understand their roles to deliver memorable finished products across all venues.

All the new stadiums under construction made a great impression on the inspection tour group, with Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium well on course to becoming the first new Fifa World Cup stadium to be completed. More than 90 percent of the stadium’s construction work is already complete, with over 20 000 seats installed.

Durban Stadium is another which captured the imagination, with its far advanced construction work and breathtaking arch already a feature of the Durban skyline.

Cape Town’s Greenpoint Stadium has made even more significant progress only three weeks since Fifa President Joseph Blatter paid tribute to its progress, with Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium and Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium also well placed to meet its Fifa deadlines.

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