Open season on the white elephant

Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town

Anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne has called for Cape Town Stadium to be demolished before it gobbles up more money, standing empty and unable to pay for itself.

We asked prominent Capetonians if they shared his view:

John Maytham, afternoon anchor on 567MW Cape Talk: “I don’t think we can afford to subsidise it forever. But it’s premature to demolish now. The city’s got to be given more time to commercialise it, to conclude the type of deals it wants to in order to make it sustainable.

“It’s a wonderful physical asset and it has the potential to be an asset of more significant variety than it is at present… But in 15 years’ time, we must certainly not be subsidising it as we are now – with it being filled only a couple of times a year.”

Mariette du Toit -Helmbold, head of Cape Town Tourism: “We have to make sure it works for Cape Town. We have to position CT as a major event-hosting city. Demolishing it should not be an option! The stadium is a major investment in tourism for us and we need to work out how we can make it work as an asset.”

Michael Bagraim, head of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “Certainly not. That would be a nightmare. It would be a waste of money, a waste of time. It’s a beautiful structure and we can make it work. (Demolition) would be a travesty. They’ve done a lot of research into it and have come up with some fantastic ideas to make money. Eventually it will attract most of the international sports events. I can’t understand how anyone could think that (demolition) would be the correct course of action.”

Marc Lottering, unofficial mayor of Cape Town: “No, it should not be demolished! It makes Greenpoint sexy and it brings all Capetonians into the city. Exactly as it should be.”

Frikkie Erasmus, a lawyer specialising in sports matters: “No, definitely not. I think it should be used for Western Province, then it won’t be a white elephant. They must not be forced, but logic should prevail. When they look at all the circumstances then it will make sense to move. The annual maintenance costs are enormous .”

Community Safety Minister Dan Plato: “No, definitely not! I know there’re problems, but we have the ability to overcome most of them. It’s a case of mindset. If we need to commercialise it to make it more viable, then we must. That’s what they’re doing all over the world…

“Stadiums are businesses. If we think that only sports events will make stadiums, then we must think again, and look at stadium best practice around the world.”

Jonathan Ackerman, customer director at Pick n Pay: “Absolutely not. We’ve got to make it work. It’s a world-class facility, we need it for Cape Town. I was fortunate to go to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and our stadium ranks with the best in the world. I hope that, between Newlands and Cape Town Stadium, we can find a solution to make it sustainable.”


Stadium stats

* Cost: R4.5 billion to build.

* Seating capacity: 68 000 for the 2010 World Cup: 55 000 post-World Cup.

* Events post-World Cup: 37.

* Most notable concerts: Coldplay, U2 and Kings of Leon.

* Other events include 38 film shoots, 10 indoor functions and 21 events using the stadium precinct and Green Point Park.

* PSL team Ajax Cape Town used it as their home base, playing 17 matches there in 2011/12.

* 21 events are planned over the next three months.

Cape Argus


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