I went on a tour of the amazing new Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 17th April. The stadium was built for the 2010 Football World Cup which commences on 11th June with the first game in Johannesburg and with the second game later that day at this Stadium. Eight of the World Cup games, including one semi-final, will be played here.
The Stadium has been built on Green Point Common and replaces the Green Point Stadium. It is about one kilometre from the centre of Cape Town and a few hundred metres from the V&A Waterfront. Construction took almost three years from March 2007 to December 2009 at a total cost of South African Rand 4.4 billion ($600 million; £390 million). It will accommodate 68,000 during the World Cup. Four successful events, each increasing in size, have been held in the Stadium to test the systems and be comfortable that it is ready for the World Cup. A full stadium can apparently be evacuated in an emergency in fifteen minutes.
The Stadium is about 300m from the sea and is very prominent on the Cape Town skyline seen from the sea. It is now the dominant feature in Green Point. It looks amazing when lit up at night with the best views from the sea or Signal Hill. Photos of the stadium can be viewed on the FIFA site at:
and also on the site of Cape Town photographer, Matthew Cargill, at: www.cargills.co.za .
As I approached the stadium I was struck by the smooth exterior appearance. This has been achieved by encasing the building in a woven PVC fabric which is held in place about two metres from the concrete.
There are seven levels to the stadium numbered from 0 to 6. Most people will enter the stadium at Level 2, which is above the first tier of seats. I was immediately struck by the openness so that from the concourse one has views across the whole stadium. I was surprised to find that the nineteen food and drink kiosks are all located on this level which means that those at the higher levels will need to come down here to fetch refreshments. The 178 media seats and 24 media desks are grouped together and run down from this level on the south side above the centre line.
The roof extends over all the seating. It is made of 9,000 glass panels which allow maximum light in during the day and allow light out at night. There is a second inner roof of woven PVC fabric, about ten metres below the main roof, which is intended to reduce the amount of sound that escapes to the outside world.
We walked through the 1,000 sq metre restaurant area on Level 3 which has not yet been fitted out and disappointingly has no view of the field. We then went up to Level 5 and explored the (unfitted) 1,500 sq metre VIP lounge which is behind the 2,200 VIP seats on the second tier. These seats appear to have the same spacing and size as all the other seats but instead of being plastic are padded. I was struck by the fact that there appeared to be no special, more comfortable and exclusive space for heads of state or similar level dignatories. I was told that such people would use the hospitality suites which ring the stadium at Level 6. We were told that we could not tour these suites. They had, apparently not been fitted out yet but I could see that they had a small stand of seats in front of each as well as a balcony to stand on and watch the game.
We descended to Level 0, which is the level of the field. There are 1,200 basement car parking spaces which are bound to be popular. We looked at one of the four team changing rooms. The main changing area comprises ten places on two of the walls. Each position has plenty of space for changing and kit and each has its own small safe. There is a communal shower for twelve people and a physio area. Down the corridor is a warm up suite about 15m x 7m with padded floor and walls and a netted ceiling.
Interestingly the Stadium police station, with three cells, is located on this level so any troublemakers will need to be brought through the same reception area as the players.
And then one goes out on to the pitch! The sight from there must enthuse any player. It really is spectacular. And the spectators seem to be close to the pitch. We could touch the grass but not walk on it. It is a Danish grass used by many stadia and it looks and feels beautiful.
It is perhaps silly to get enthusiastic about a football stadium but that is how I feel about this one. It is an architectural wonder and looks amazing from all aspects. It has a welcoming feel to it and allows people to move easily around and in it. The pitch feels relatively close to the spectators. It appears to have been built at a reasonable price in a quick time. It will be a wonderful place to welcome Football World Cup teams.
PS. There has been some debate about who will principally use the Stadium after the World Cup. It has been suggested as a new home for Western Province Rugby Union. I understand that there are very mixed feelings about that. Our guide explained to me that one of the issues is apparently hospitality suites. There are about 100 such suites at the Stadium and apparently over 300 at Newlands. There are plans to remove 13,000 seats on Tier 3 after the World Cup and replace them with hospitality suites, but that will not create another 200 suites.
Other quick facts:
- Height: 50m
- Length: 290m
- Width: 265m
- Perimeter: 765m
- 360 floodlights
Bricks used: 4 800 000