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
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.”
Urban spaces around the stadium in the Green Point precinct.