The new Moses Mahbida-stadium currently under construction for the Fifa 2010 World Cup may turn out to be a white elephant that could prove hard to maintain.
News24 reports that the Durban municipality – the owner of the facility – is working hard at convincing the Natal Rugby Union (Sharks) to swap their current home at Absa Park for the Moses Mahbida-stadium after 2010.
Many believe that the new stadium will be exclusively used by soccer clubs, but Gillian Saunders, head of Grant Thornton’s strategic analysis department in Johannesburg, says that it would not be financially possible for soccer clubs to use the stadium on their own.
“All of the 2010 stadia will have to incorporate as many sporting codes as possible after the tournament or they will be not be financially viable,” says Saunders.
Julie-May Ellingson, head of the eThekwini-municipality’s strategic projects department agrees. According to Ellingson the municipality plans to use the stadium for rugby, soccer and athletic events. “It is not financially viable that the stadium be used exclusively for soccer”.
Professor Ronnie Schloss, chief operations officer of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) said last week that the PSL supports the building of new stadiums “because soccer does not have its own facilities”.
Schloss confirmed that it “would not be possible for soccer clubs to maintain the stadium in Durban on their own”.
“Ticket prices for soccer matches are only R20 each, so gate takings would probably not even cover the security costs of the stadium.
Sharing with rugby?
“The soccer clubs won’t mind sharing the new stadia – as long as they don’t have to be second in line, behind the rugby unions when it comes to the use of the facilities”, says Schloss.
“Alternatively government can subsidise the stadia as was done for the rugby and cricket unions during apartheid,” Schloss said.
Brian van Zyl, chief operations officer of the Sharks, confirmed this week that the negotiations for the new stadium is ongoing, but did not want to comment on the process. The Sharks are renting their current premises on a long-term basis with a contract that only expires in 2056.
The initial plan was, according to Ellingson, to upgrade the existing Absa Park ruby stadium for 2010 at an estimated cost of R350m, but the plan was slated in favour of the new stadium.
The Moses Mahbida stadium is being constructed on the premises of the old King’s Park soccer stadium – not far away from Absa Park – at an estimated cost of about R2.2bn.
An informed source that wishes to remain anonymous, has confirmed to Sake24 that “up to today no reason was given to the Sharks for the decision not to upgrade Absa Park”.
Ellingson had said in an earlier interview that it’s possible that the Sharks current home could be downscaled and converted into a tennis stadium. “The negotiations with the Sharks are progressing well and we should have it concluded within the next few months,” Ellingson said.Tweet