Progress on the R8,4-billion construction and upgrade of the ten stadiums selected to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup has emerged, rightly or wrongly, as the touchstone for South Africa’s readiness to host a world-class event.

The developments are also proving to be catalyst for a host of other infrastructure investments, such as the R19-billion for the expansion of airports, as well as the R5,5-billion investment for rail and road network improvements.

There is no question that the South African government is alive to the threats and oppor- tunities associated with the spectacle, which will kick off on June 11, 2010, not only for this country, but for the entire continent. This is epitomised by Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi’s statement that South Africa is “the stage and the continent is the theatre”. “We have to deliver a world-class event and the execution must reflect excellence,” proclaimed Moleketi.

It appears that, unlike other World Cups, the South African event has been burdened with near-extreme expect-ations about what it can in fact achieve with regard to social and political spin-offs, from solving the crime situation, through to ensuring regional economic integration.

Organisers have also had to continu- ally fight the ever-present reality of Afro-pessimism, which, until recently, was manifested in ongoing media reports suggesting that FIFA intended to whip the event away from the country, citing everything from the slow pace of stadium construction through to concerns about safety and security.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) communications manager Tumi Makgabo, who returned to South Africa from a five-year stint with CNN in Atlanta, confirms with Engineering News that expect-ations of the OC are generally not only high, but in some instances even unrealistic.

For instance, she suggests that there is an overwhelming perception that the OC is responsible for the national safety and security and has the sole duty of solving South Africa’s crime problem. “The reality is that, as far as we are concerned, our objective is to provide event-related security, which includes that of the teams, member associations, and FIFA staff. This is different from the broader security situation in the country, and it should be noted that South Africa’s record in delivering event-related security for big sporting and nonsporting events has been good. We have had a number of summits where we hosted numerous heads of State without a single incident, and our security plans have been used by key organisations in other parts of the world,” affirms Makgabo.

But Makgabo admits that the battle against Afro-pessimism remains the biggest challenge. “The underlying sentiment is that there is going to be a problem, purely because we are staging the event in Africa.”

She acknowledges that there is still little con- fidence that South Africa will build and deliver the stadiums on schedule, despite the fact that South African contractors have delivered spectacular structures in the past, both locally and in countries such as the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, during his visit to the country, FIFA president Joseph S Blatter moved to provide the counterweight to the pessimism. He declared South Africa FIFA’s ‘project number one’ for the next four years. “I have been briefed and I believe we are on track with the preparations and I am optimistic that, when we play in 2010, it will be football weather,” said Blatter.

He admitted that there were still those who viewed it as a problem that FIFA had voted to bring the World Cup to Africa, but said that the continent, which had supported his re-election as FIFA president, should feel assured that nothing will take away the prestigious event. He indicated that, for FIFA, bringing the event to Africa was practically “a moral obligation to African football and to the African people”.

He appealed to African governments and the international community to get behind the development of Africa and proposed football as the vehicle for educational, social and health initiatives and as a tool in the fight against discrimination so as to reinforce national unity.

Stadiums key to building Afro-optimism

But as expressed earlier, all the sentiment in the world is worth little unless there are tangible results emerging in and around the stadiums themselves.

Acutely aware of this reality, OC CEO Danny Jordaan stresses that progress is being made, even when the outward signs of progress are not evident. He notes that anyone who has been involved in a building project will know that as the project advances, there are occasions when one wonders whether any progress is being made.

The biggest challenge in the construction of stadiums is the timeframe, which is not only tight but also prone to unpredictable realities, such as the weather or materials constraint. There were also hurdles such as the legal challenges, particularly in Cape Town and Durban.

“In recent months, various individuals have publicly questioned the pace and efficiency of our preparations. The reality is that our prepar- ations remain solidly on track. South Africa already offers the infrastructure and the stadiums to stage a good tournament and within our carefully planned timetable up to June 2010, we will develop our infrastructure, skills and stadiums to host a truly exceptional festival of soccer,” declares Jordaan.


But what is the current state of development at the ten sites, five redevelopment sites and five greenfield sites? In the balance of this article, we will attempt to give a brief overview, in a bid to offer something of a report card of progress. Where possible, we have attempted to gain this insight from an individual based on the construction site itself. In other instances, we have had to rely on published sources.

Green Point stadium

Despite many delays and legal challenges, construction of the R2,37-billion Green Point stadium, in Cape Town, is said to be on schedule for completion by the target date of October 2009.

City of Cape Town 2010 technical director Dave Hugo says that the entire project programme is “tight” with initial main structural components comprising earthworks, foundations, pylon columns, lift and stair cores, columns, shear walls, raking beams, slabs, precast seating, and the roof.

“The skills shortage has been identified as a critical risk item and is being monitored on an ongoing basis. The importation of skills remains a possibility, but will only be resorted to as a last option should it be proven that these skills are not available in South Africa,” notes Hugo.

He adds that the city is mindful of certain materials shortages, but that forward planning has ensured that the construction progress has not been impeded. Nevertheless, the situation is being monitored on an ongoing basis.

“The two main risk items identified before construction commenced, being the timeframe and finance, remain a challenge. All aspects of the project are being closely monitored to ensure early warning of any projected programme or budgetary overruns. This will allow remedial action to be taken to address any such deviations should these occur.”

The contract contains a penalty of R250 000 a day for late completion but, given that the contractual completion date is non-negotiable, it is not envisaged that penalties will become payable.

Cape Town mayor Helen Zille believes that the city is fully committed to making the 2010 FIFA World Cup a resounding success, as it was the first host city to launch its logo. “The situation for the building of Green Point stadium is complex but I’m delighted to say that we are on schedule.”

Moses Mabhida stadium

This is another stadium that is to be built from scratch for the event. To meet FIFA requirements, new roofed upper tiers will have to be con- structed at the north and south ends of the ground, and behind each of the goals.

This will create a fully encircled oval with a 70 000 seating capacity. A special feature of the stadium will be a 30-storey arch around the stadium. The stadium will be built directly behind Kings Park stadium, just outside Durban’s city centre.

Speaking to Engineering News, spokesperson for the Moses Mabhida stadium, in KwaZulu-Natal, Julie-May Ellingson said that construction was well ahead of the programme, with the piling foundation for the stadium bowl and the basic foundation for the arch well under way.

Construction of the piling foundation for the stadium bowl had thus far amounted to some 23 000 t of concrete, 330 t of steel and 1 900 piles already on the ground, Ellingson explained.

The two arches on the south end of the diaphragm wall were 100% complete, with the north-end wall being 50% complete with 6 599 t of concrete and 400 t of steel having been used on the three arches to date.

The appointed contractor was “busy with pile caps to create columns to support the stadium, and, to date, some 2 000 t of concrete and 300 t of steel have been used”.

“Six of the 12 cranes and 20 mobile cranes are on site,” Elingson said.

At construction peak, which would be at the end of this year, some 2 000 employees would be working on the project.

Nelson Mandela Bay multipurpose stadium

It is envisaged that the Nelson Mandela Bay multi- purpose stadium will be built on the verge of a lake, and will have multiple uses, most notably soccer, rugby and other sporting events.

During the FIFA World Cup, the stadium will have 50 000 seats and after the event, 40 000 seats. The stadium will have five tiers.

The Eastern Province Herald reported that the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has decided to downgrade Port Elizabeth’s soccer World Cup stadium, owing to the fact that the Eastern Cape government had not paid the R212-million it had previously committed to the project.

It was initially estimated that the Nelson Mandela Bay multipurpose stadium would cost R250-million, but the figure increased to R711-million in 2006, and finally to R1,2-billion. This left the municipality with a shortfall of R262-million, with the National Treasury saying it would not allocate any more funds.

However, the Bisho provincial government says it remains committed to the development and will release the funds if the municipality can explain why the budget has escalated to more than R1,2-billion.

Nelson Mandela Bay municipality communications director Roland Williams tells Engineering News that the value of the stadium is in fact R1,3-billion, of which R1,1-billion has already been secured.

He adds that the stadium is scheduled to be a FIFA-compliant stadium in December 2008. “All the components of the project are critical, but, fortunately, contingencies have been built into the project plan and everything is going according to plan,” says Williams.

Penalties have been built into the contract and revolve around ensuring that the stadium is completed by the project delivery date.

Mbombela stadium

Construction of the new Mbombela stadium on open land 7 km north of Nelspruit is expected to be completed in 2009. Mbombela stadium has been designed to ensure that it is sustainable beyond the tournament as an adaptable, relevant multisport, entertainment, and exhibition venue.

Mbombela stadium has been allocated both first- and second-round matches and has a capacity of just over 40 000.

Foundation pouring at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, had already started, and spokesperson Vusi Sibiya told Engineering News that concrete pouring for the piles had begun.

He added that surface drainage on the northern side was about 70 % complete, and bulk earthworks were almost complete.

While work on the northern end had been delayed by the relocation of the two schools that were on site, “work was picking up speed”, Sibiya said.

Besides confirming that additional funding for the project was a challenge, he pointed out that the contractor was working ahead to compile a database of the total workforce and the skills needed on site when construction began.

“The actual stands for the stadium are expected to start taking shape in June,” he said of the R920-million sports facility set to be ready for use by early 2009.

Peter Mokaba sports complex

The construction of the R124-million Peter Mokaba sports complex is under way. The funding has been secured with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Limpopo provincial government and the Polokwane municipality.

The project will be completed by October 2009.

The concrete structure and the structural steel roof are the only components of the project that have tight schedules. Polokwane will host five matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but would not be hosting any of the Confederations Cup matches.

The Confederations Cup will be held in South Africa in 2009 and is regarded as a dry run for the tournament in 2010.

An additional 20 rows of seating will be installed to increase its seating capacity to 40 000.

In addition to the structural work, the stadium will be provided with an electronic scoreboard in the northern stand, new floodlights, a sound system, and a fire-detection and protection system.

“Owing to high construction activity in the area and, in the whole country, there is limited supply of skilled personnel. The main contractor has managed to get the skills from previous projects while at the same time engaging the local market for more resources required,” says project manager Tebogo Nchapha.

The main contractor has secured deliveries for aggregate, cement for the batching plant on site and other critical material to alleviate supply disruptions.

The municipality of Polokwane is excited about this project and is being very realistic and accommodating about requirements and demands.

“Owing to the commitment and passion of the professional team, the experience of the main contractor and the hands-on approach of the sports and recreation management of Polokwane, we are confident the project will be completed on time and within budget.”

Soccer City

Grinaker-LTA has been awarded the R1,56-billion contract for the Soccer City stadium upgrade. The company was awarded the contract in joint venture with Interbeton, part of the Royal BAM Group, from Holland.

At the beginning of May, 95% of the demolition work and 85% of the earthworks had been completed. The piling and casting of the pile caps had started, and the opening of existing piles was in progress.

Business Day reported that OC chief of communications and marketing Tim Modise said at a briefing, “The flagship stadium (Soccer City), where the opening and final games will be played, will be delivered several months ahead of time, as they have been working 24/7 on it,” he said.

Ellis Park

Ellis Park has been earmarked as a semifinal venue for the 2010 event. The stadium already satisfies FIFA’s requirements to host the semi- and quarter-final matches, so the upgrade to the stadium will be mostly cosmetic in nature.

Once completed, new upper tiers will have been constructed behind each goal, adding 10 000 seats to each end of the stadium, bringing the seating capacity to 70 000.

Further, the Greater Ellis Park precinct will receive a multimillion-rand upgrade over the next five years.

The general area around the precinct is also set to benefit from a R2-billion upgrade.

Loftus Versfeld

City of Tshwane metropolitan municipality 2010 FIFA World Cup CEO Godfrey Modise Nkwane affirms that the upgrade of Loftus Versfeld stadium will cost about R90-million and the upgrade will be funded by the national government through the Department of Sport and Recreation.

He adds that the consulting engineers are in the process of finalising the drawings, in line with FIFA’s guidelines and the main contractor will be on site in six weeks.

The completion date is October 2008.

“The building of the roof over the eastern pavilion of the stadium is critical because that will mean at some stage the pavilion will not be available for use during the matches. However, the structure will be built off-site and then mounted at the right time. The only flag that has been raised is regarding the availability of electronic equipment, like the scoreboard and the action replay screen,” notes Nkwane. Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace The capacity of Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, in Rustenburg, will be increased to 40 000 with the construction of two additional rows of seating on the second level. New electronic scoreboards, floodlights, and a new public address system will be installed. A media centre will also be built at the stadium. An amount of R147-million will be spent on the stadium.

Free State stadium

For the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a second tier will be added to the main grandstand of Free State Stadium, in Bloemfontein, which will increase the seating capacity from 38 000 to 46 000 and will take place in phases.

New turnstiles will be erected, the flood- lights will be upgraded, electronic scoreboards will be installed and the sound system will be revamped. A media centre will also be built at the stadium.

The total cost of the upgrade is R241-million. The city received R221-million from the national government for the upgrade and the remaining R20-million will be from the city’s coffers.

In terms of the city’s progress made to date, key areas of focus at this stage have been on the upgrading of the stadium, transportation projects, and the hospitality aspects.

Construction will start this month and is scheduled to be completed by December 2008.

One of the challenges that the city faces in respect of the stadium upgrade relates to finding suitably experienced contractors that will respond to the tender for the upgrade. Many of the big companies have already been contracted by the other cities for the construction of their stadiums.


Makgabo says that one of the things that is happening during the preparations for the tour- nament is the seeking of ways of extending the benefits of the FIFA World Cup beyond 2010.

The funding commitments have all but been secured, and the OC is encouraging host cities to integrate the stadiums and the associated infrastructure into their urban development plans.

“In terms of the stadiums themselves, one of the underpinning visions is to ensure that they are conceptualised as multipurpose precincts for sports and recreation, so that there will be a greater likelihood of making sustainable use and income from them,” adds Makgabo.

The OC is confident that it will deliver a world-class event in 2010 and that the stadiums will be completed on time.

“We have met the deadline we set for construction to begin on new buildings and we trust that we can maintain that course,” she concludes.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Dennis Ndaba
DATED: 13th July 2007