PE stadium well ahead of schedule

GRINDING: Graders clear the ground as builders work on the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Pic. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.
GRINDING: Graders clear the ground as builders work on the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Pic. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Following the demolition of Prince Alfred Park in Northend, the construction of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Eliza-beth in is in full swing.

The R1,3billion multi-purpose stadium will have a seating capacity of 48000 people for the 2010 World Cup but the seats will be reduced by 8 000 afterwards.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the only new facility in South Africa that will host both the 2009 Confederations Cup and World Cup matches .

Construction of the stadium started in July last year.

"We started with the earthworks last year, the constructions is well ahead in terms of our schedule," said Coert du Toit, project manager of the principal agents.

"The piling [foundations], which started in March, is also going according to plans, we drill about 30 piles [supports] a day. There will be close to 3000 piles drilled.

"It will definitely be one of the best stadiums in the world. The people of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the entire South Africa will be proud of it. The seats will be on a concrete terrace with beautiful plastic seats. The drainage systems will be one of the best in the world.

"Fifa are still to advise us on the pitch size and grass. The grass will not be the same as in Bloemfontein or any other host city because of the weather conditions.

"We will have have also two training fields with the same surface as the stadium. There will also be things like the medical rooms, media lounge and retail shops."

Du Toit, who took a Sowetan crew on a site tour, said the real tangible structures are expected to start in August.

The stadium is scheduled to be completed in December next year.

Also present during the tour was Errol Heynes, director of the municipality's 2010 World Cup, who facilitated the visit.

Heynes said there were about 100 workers from the main contractor on the site, but the number will increase to just over 1 000 in August.

Residents of Northend are among the first to benefit directly from the 2010 World Cup even before the soccer fiesta starst.

Properties in this Port Elizabeth area have skyrocketed, with some houses in the area reportedly costing as much as R1 million.

"The prices of the houses are booming after it was announced [that] the 2010 stadium will be built here," said Heynes.

"There are some people who are selling their houses, taking advantage of the booming prices. On the other hand, there are many others wanting to buy in the area."

Northend is a stone's throw from the Sydenham train station, with amenities like primary and high schools.

There is also a lake near the site of the stadium.

The new stadium is built on the Prince Alfred Park site, part of which was used by the Park rugby club. the municipality has allocated another premises to the club for training.

The municipality and Eastern Cape tourism authorities expect the bed and breakfast establishments in the area to mushroom in the next few months.