A company run by former SA Rugby managing director Rian Oberholzer has won the bid to operate and manage Nelson Mandela Bay‘s Fifa World Cup stadium.

Metro communications manager Roland Williams said Access Facilities and Leisure Management‘s contract was being finalised, and negotiations would begin this week.

“I‘m very excited,” said Oberholzer, who was director of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa 14 years ago. “The city has a huge potential and a stadium is exactly what it needs. It‘s a world class venue and will help in soccer, rugby and other activities. I‘ve got the necessary expertise in sports management and major events.”

Oberholzer, also manager of the Ellis Park Stadium where the final was played in 1995, was also involved in organising the 2003 IRB tournament in Australia.

Williams said the company would be required to operate, manage and market the 48000-seat stadium and its surrounding urban precinct. This could include upgrading the area.

The stadium is scheduled for completion between April and May, and activities could take place from as early as May, he said.

Bay deputy mayor Bicks Ndoni said: “By attracting world class sporting and recreational events, before and after the World Cup, the stadium will provide a major boost to the economy of the surrounding precinct and the Bay at large.

“The stadium operator, through its experience and expertise in a wide range of disciplines, must ensure, in partnership with and on behalf of the municipality, that these objectives are indeed reached.”

He said negotiations with AFLM had begun with the objective of agreeing on areas of responsibility relating to management and commercial aspects.

Bay 2010 World Cup director Errol Heynes said yesterday: “Appointing an operator is the next big step in ensuring the stadium is running successfully in time for the 2010 World Cup and also in making sure that it remains sustainable in the long term.

“We felt Access Facilities and Leisure Management displayed the qualities we were looking for in a multi-disciplinary stadium operator, as they have a thorough knowledge and experience of stadium management in respect of football, rugby, other sports, and events, property development and national and international marketing expertise.”

PUBLICATION: The Weekend Post Online
AUTHOR: Sipho Masondo
DATED: 20th March 2009