mecca of socceR handed over

SOCCER City, which has been upgraded to the tune of R3billion, is now ready for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo declared yesterday.

SOCCER City, which has been upgraded to the tune of R3billion, is now ready for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo declared yesterday.

This comes a week after Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said he was impressed with the stadium, saying "it can host a match tomorrow".

The stadium was handed over to Masondo at Nasrec by the Aveng Group CEO Roger Jardine.

The initial cost to refurbish the mecca of South African soccer, which will host the World Cup opening and closing ceremonies, was R2,2 billion.

The figure soared because of escalating costs, but Masondo said he was happy with the outcome.

"We said the community must benefit from the project and we further said that we would create more jobs for our people," he said.

"I'm pleased to say we have created over 17 200 jobs, with no fatalities or serious injuries. In addition to the jobs created, over 800 members of the community received formal training.

"They were presented with accredited certificates in areas like bricklaying, crane operating, foremen, surveying and computers.

"Over 150 sub-contractors were contracted to the value ofR1,6billion. We will have test matches ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

"We want to salute all the workers who contributed to the delivery of this excellent facility," Masondo said.

The capacity of the stadium was increased from 70 000 to 94 450. The upgraded Soccer City, shaped like a calabash, is the largest in Africa. It has 193 suites, with 2700 seats allocated to the media.

With the constructors still busy with paving routes around the stadium, the entire upgrading process will end by month end.

l To view the Soccer City handover ceremony, go towww.sowetan.co.za.

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