Orlando Stadium gets R200m facelift

As a training venue for the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup, Orlando Stadium is getting a massive upgrade that will benefit Johannesburg long after the football tournament has come and gone.

The City iof Johannesburg has set aside R200-million for the upgrading of Orlando Stadium in Soweto ahead of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

This was announced by Executive Mayor Amos Masondo at a recent event to launch of redevelopment.

Attending the event was the City Manager, Mavela Dlamini, the newly-appointed 2010 Project Manager, Sibongile Mazibuko, members of the mayoral committee and soccer legends who had played at Orlando Stadium during their football careers.

It is one of the training venues for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and is the home of premier soccer league club Moroka Swallows. The stadium celebrated its 47th birthday on May 2.

"The stadium was built at a cost of £36,000; more than four decades later it is being built at a cost of R200-million," Masondo said. "This facility is going to be the biggest and the most sophisticated stadium in this residential area."

At present, the stadium can seat about 24,000 people. This capacity will be increased to 40,000 as part of the upgrades.

"Our intention is to make this facility a multi-purpose stadium. Apart from soccer it may also be used for rugby matches, netball, other sports activities and big events," the mayor explained.

Sid Clark, the City's Deputy Director for strategic support in the department of social development, said the stadium met all the FIFA requirements.

"This will be the safest stadium - with no stairs, it will only have ramps. We have also provided 280 wheelchair facilities."

Work will start immediately and is expected to be completed by July 2008.

"The project has been conceptualised in such a way that it takes into account our commitment to use the pressure of the 2010 Soccer World Cup to ensure that a lasting legacy is left behind for the benefit of the residents of Johannesburg," Masondo said.

"When the soccer spectacle has come and gone there must be something of value that is there for all to see and point at& This project is part of the bigger programme of restoring the dignity of our people. We therefore have no intention of compromising on quality," he concluded.

Patson Banda, the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper, said the stadium had a remarkable history. "We are happy to see it rising again."

By Lucky Sindane, Johannesburg News Agency

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