Stadium revamp takes shape

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

The newly revamped Orlando Stadium in Soweto is beginning to take shape and will be ready for the 2010 World Cup by next year.

Situated in Mooki Street in Orlando, the historic venue is currently undergoing a R284million facelift.

The stadium was first opened in 1959 and has since been associated with the emergence of many of South Africa's soccer greats.

Stars such as Jomo Sono, Kaizer Motaung, Patson Banda, Pro Khumalo and Steven "Kalamazoo" Mokone, among others, found their fame in the stadium during fierce soccer competitions.

These soccer greats graced the Orlando grounds with their presence when they battled it out during many memorable and highly charged matches.

The venue became the home of township soccer during the apartheid era, when sporting facilities were few and far between for black people.

Soccer was often the only source of entertainment and township youngsters used the opportunity to shine.

Vast crowds streamed to the venue on weekend afternoons to support their favourite soccer teams.

The rivalry between Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows has kept crowds on their feet for many years.

The stadium was razed to the ground recently to allow a massive rebuild to take place.

The original Orlando Stadium could seat 24 000 people, but capacity is being increased to 48 000.

The renovations will be completed in May next year.

The venue will be used as a training ground during the world's biggest soccer tournament.