Excitement is running high and locals are dusting off their vuvuzelas in anticipation of the biggest sporting event in the country’s history.
The run-up to the arrival of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 has seen Cape Town buzzing with activity. Roads have been revamped, the transport system has been overhauled and the airport has been upgraded, while Green Point Stadium has slowly risen.
Watching the yellow cranes hovering over Green Point like nosy, mechanical giraffes has made it hard for locals to remember a time when all this seemed like an impossible feat.
Getting the stadium off the ground was a battle – cost controversies, legal scuffles, complaining home-owners, striking construction workers and public outcries concerning the distance between the stadium and its fan base had to be conquered. But everything eventually fell back on track and it looks like the stadium will complete in time.
In the beginning Green Point Common, on which the stadium is being built, has a colourful history dating back to the 18th century. Originally it was much larger, stretching all the way from Signal Hill to the ocean.
But since its inception, various sporting pursuits, including 18th-century sailing regattas (there used to be a shallow ‘vlei’ on the common), horse racing, cycling and golf, have taken place here. Some of the country’s earliest rugby and cricket matches were also played here.
The R2.85 billion development will have seats for 68,000 punters and the entire structure will be a dizzying 15 storeys high. To guarantee neighbouring home-owners a good night’s sleep, the walls will be covered with noise-reducing cladding, while the glass roof – designed by German architects and built in New York – will bounce noise back into the stadium. Inside, amenities will include four television studios, 250 VIP suites, a medical centre and a police station.
The grass for the pitch was planted on a Stellenbosch farm in December 2008. To be able to withstand heavy traffic and comply with strict FIFA guidelines, it has to be of an exceptionally high standard. Once planted, the surface has to be 28 milimetres high at all times, and mowed in both a horizontal and vertical direction.
The hope is that the effects of 2010 will linger long. FIFA, the City of Cape Town, the South African government and the Local World Cup Organising Committee are placing a strong emphasis on leaving behind ‘legacy benefits’. These will include more green community spaces across the city, with Green Point Common being upgraded to a sports and recreation precinct (an urban park on the common is also on the cards).
The tourism industry is also set for a whopping boost: an estimated 500,000 soccer fans will descend on the country during the event, while the upgrades to the transport system and world-wide press coverage should, it’s hoped, benefit the industry for years to come.
Friday 11 June
Monday 14 June
Friday 18 June
Monday 21 June
Thursday 24 June
Tuesday 29 June
Saturday 3 July
Tuesday 6 July
Learn these terms and cheer like a local…
Laduma! A cheer often heard when a goal is scored; from isiZulu, meaning ‘it thunders’.
Vuvuzela A brightly coloured, plastic, trumpet-like instrument; much loved by local soccer fans.