It’s been nearly 10 years since South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup. The tournament was the catalyst for unity, helping South Africans see past their differences and embrace one another. Even after the host nation was knocked out, many became part of “Team Africa”, supporting any of our neighbouring countries as they continued in the competition. Love them or hate them, vuvuzelas were the soundtrack of a nation’s excitement boiling over.
South Africa’s bid to host the tournament was not without its naysayers – many voiced their concerns about the amount of money each host city would spend preparing for the tournament, with the stadiums being the biggest expenditure. Though some were merely upgrades to existing stadiums, others were built specially for the tournament. So, 10 years on, how are these stadiums serving their cities?
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Formally known as the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, this stadium is found in Rustenburg and was the only stadium in the Northern Cape to host World Cup matches. Like some of the other stadiums, it was a stadium upgrade instead of a new build. Part of this upgrade was installing an Olympic-sized swimming pool, athletics track, tennis court, netball court, volleyball court, basketball, and a fitness centre – living up to its name of being a sports palace. What makes Royal Bafokeng unique is it is the only community-owned stadium in South African, meaning all activities and the proceeds thereof go towards the bettering of the Bafokeng people who live in that area.
The stadium that started and ended it all in 2010, Soccer City (as it was referred to during the tournament) hosted both the opening and closing ceremony, the first match and the final. FNB Stadium is now the home stadium for PSL giants Kaizer Chiefs. The Calabash has a capacity just shy of 100 000, so it’s little wonder why big talent book it when they’re in town. A great example of this was the recent Ed Sheeran concert which saw around 127 000 concert-goers attend over the two nights of performance, which has received much praise for how well managed and policed it was. FNB Stadium is probably the best example of a stadium’s integration into a city’s landscape and event calendar.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
A beautiful stadium under a kilometer away from Durban’s gorgeous beach promenade – need we say more? For a stadium to succeed long-term, it needs to cater to the people of its city, which Moses Mabhida does well. It plays its part in many events involving physical activity, such as being the finish line of the 2018 Comrades Marathon, the annual Big Walk and hosting exhibition matches for local soccer giants.
Moses Mabhida forms part of a larger sporting complex, with Jonsson Kings Park, Durban Country Club, Kings Park Pool and the KZN Athletics all across the road from one another, making it the go-to destination for competitive sports. It’s famous arch also attracts adrenaline junkies – the Big Rush allowing visitors a chance to experience a 120 km/h free fall from 60 meters. The stadium is also the venue for the monthly I Heart Market, a trendy platform for entrepreneurs to sell their goods.
These are just three of the 10 stadiums used in the World Cup, regularly hosting interesting events and serving the communities where they’re located. Their large price tags may have been a hard sell to justify, but as these cities have grown and modernized around them, they will continue to add value to future generations. Importantly, they each have a story – some portraying their proud African heritage physically, some bearing the names of national heroes, some of them simply hosting events that will be remembered for a lifetime. We’re proud to have them as part of our skylines and think it’d be worthwhile taking a trip to see each of them. What do you say? Wherever you decide to go, there’ll be a City Lodge Hotel property nearby to help you explore.