Still a long road to go to de­ter­mine sta­dium’s fate

The fu­ture of Cape Town’s Sta­dium is a dou­ble-edged sword for the city, writes Anna-Marie Smith

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THE no­tion of one of there be­ing only two ways to cor­rect a loss-mak­ing op­er­a­tion — by ei­ther in­creas­ing in­come or re­duc­ing ex­penses — ap­pears for­got­ten in the de­bate around the 2010 world cup soc­cer sta­dium.

The city’s fi­nal call on the fu­ture of the sta­dium in Green Point — an ar­chi­tec­tural master­piece on the one hand, and a white ele­phant on the other — is yet to be made.

An opin­ion poll as part of a pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process ear­lier this year re­vealed the ma­jor­ity of Cape Town res­i­dents be­ing in favour of “sav­ing” the sta­dium through com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion. How­ever, they re­main vig­i­lant about the preser­va­tion of ur­ban green spa­ces as well as his­toric sites within the con­fines of cur­rent land-use zon­ing re­stric­tions.

Any num­ber of failed at­tempts at find­ing fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions has re­sulted in the sore lack of in­come from non-events at the 55,000seat sta­dium af­ter 2010, and a crip­pling R436m bill in run­ning costs in­stead. Tax­pay­ers can brace them­selves for ad­di­tional main­te­nance costs that will soon add to the al­ready oner­ous bur­den car­ried by the city.

How­ever, var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional busi­ness mod­els sub­mit­ted to the city for con­sid­er­a­tion cited the ac­count­abil­ity to Cape Town res­i­dents as a pri­or­ity. The Green Point Ratepay­ers and Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, whose fierce ac­tions as prop­erty watch­dog dur­ing the ear­li­est stages of the sta­dium’s plan­ning, are well recorded.

On­go­ing chal­lenges fac­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion in­clude the now dropped SANDF pro­posed de­vel­op­ment of the his­toric mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity at Fort Wynyard at Green Point Com­mon. The pro­tec­tion of this sig­nif­i­cant her­itage site will re­place fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies ini­ti­ated for the con­struc­tion of a lux­ury four-storey ho­tel and bistro.

Ward coun­cil­lor for the At­lantic Seaboard, Bev­er­ley Schafer, says: “There is no sta­dium in the world that can ex­ist on events alone. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that Cape Town Sta­dium is a vi­able as­set.” While the process cur­rently in­cludes Western Prov­ince Rugby, the ANC has urged the city coun­cil to en­gage with rugby and foot­ball unions as well as busi­ness, be­fore mov­ing for­ward with any com­mer­cial plans for the precinct.

Shafer says the first phase of the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process was based on the city’s com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness plan that re­sulted in a 65% ap­proval of com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of the sta­dium. She says the most cru­cial is­sue is the sec­ond phase of pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion ad­dress­ing land use is­sues, which will de­ter­mine the fi­nal out­come with re­gard to ur­ban spa­ces sur­round­ing the sta­dium.

“Pub­lic en­gage­ment and opin­ion at an in­for­ma­tion evening sched­uled for 2 Oc­to­ber at Cape Town sta­dium is es­sen­tial in the process of de­ter­min­ing the of­fi­cial precinct and bound­aries of pub­lic open spa­ces in the area,” she says. Once set, this will be fol­lowed by an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment and even­tual re­zon­ing of ur­ban ground that could take up to two years. “The pro­tec­tion of the ur­ban park sur­round­ings around the sta­dium may well lead to a sub­di­vi­sion of the ad­ja­cent prop­er­ties, where ex­act lines of di­vi­sion are ab­so­lutely cru­cial to the long-term preser­va­tion of Green Point’s ur­ban spa­ces.”

Pic­ture: BRUCE SUTHER­LAND, CITY OF CAPE TOWN

Ur­ban spa­ces around the sta­dium in the Green Point precinct.

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