Johannesburg stadiums on schedule

The City of Johannesburg is thrilled that the upgrading of Soccer City and Ellis Park stadiums are both on track, adding the process will be completed on time.

The City of Johannesburg is thrilled that the upgrading of Soccer City and Ellis Park stadiums are both on track, adding the process will be completed on time.

Soccer City, known as the mecca of South African soccer, was partially demolished in 2006 and the renovation process began in March last year.

The builders' rubble from the original stadium is being used in the upgrade.

Soccer City will be the main venue during the 2010 World Cup as it will host the opening and closing ceremonies, which are expected to generate massive interest locally and globally.

The roof structure of the stadium, which according to the city's 2010 World Cup director Sibongile Mazibuko is almost halfway to completion, was manufactured in Italy and transported to South Africa.

Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary, visited the site where Soccer City is being upgraded three weeks ago and commended the construction team for a job well done in putting up a world-class facility.

"The project is on course and 44 percent complete," said Mazibuko, who was one of the top brass responsible for the World Cup in all the nine host cities sent to the 2008 European Championship on a learning curve.

"The stadium's support structures are completed and the roof is 45 percent finished. Structural and pre-cast concrete work is also progressing well.

"The stadium has increased its seating [capacity] by 34 percent and will have place for 94700 people through three tiers of seating, private boxes and VIP suites.

"The media will be accommodated in eight television presentation studios. There will also be a soccer museum and a 300-seater restaurant," said Mazibuko.

He added that the refurbishing of Soccer City will be completed in May next year.

Moving to Ellis Park Stadium, Mazibuko said the upgrading of the facility, which will also host the 2009 Confederations Cup and World Cup, will be completed in November this year.

"Building started in the latter part of 2007 and is now nearing completion, with final fittings in progress. These include tiling and improvements to the foyer areas as well as new change rooms and toilet blocks.

"Seating is also receiving some attention to cater for disabled people. Alterations to seating are completed, except for balustrades, which still need to be erected. The roof structure is being erected and is 35 percent complete."

Ellis Park, which will now have a capacity of 62 000, will also be the venue for the opening ceremony of the Confederations Cup. Previously, it accommodated 57000 people.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo will visit the new Orlando Stadium today to update the media on the progress of constructing the venue once known as the mecca of South African soccer.

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