Phoenix rising from the ashes

Posted: June 24, 2009 in Uncategorized
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First Published in The Event.

The new Green Point Stadium is set in 85 hectares, with Table Mountain as a backdrop, and a grandiose view of Robben Island, Table Bay and the Boland mountain ranges.

Construction of the stadium has previously been closed to the public and Capetonians could only watch from a distance as the skeleton-like pylons climbed higher into the sky as the months went on.

Contractors Murray & Roberts and WBHO, together with a City of Cape Town partnership created the Green Point Stadium Visitor Centre which was officially opened by then City Mayor, Helen Zille in 2008. The aim of the centre is to allow visitors and soccer-lovers to reminisce on the history of soccer, and track the progress of the 2010 stadium. A visit to the Centre starts with a guided tour through a photo gallery filled with soccer heroes such as Doctor Khumalo, Neil Tove, Mark Fish and Lucas Radebe. Guests are then ushered into the auditorium for a one-man show, the GreensMan, a powerful and energetic one man play by Anthony Fikile.

The multimedia play dramatises the history of Cape Town and particularly that of the Green Point Common. The play is accessible and informative as it uses humour and powerful audio visuals to illustrate historic events and characters such as the Khoisan, horseracing on the common, the discovery of gold, and the Anglo Boer war. The play reminds us of how the Groups Areas Act displaced multiracial soccer teams and fans of the Common, and of the Freedom Charter signed at the old Green Point Stadium.

After the show visitors can watch a short film, The Game Plan, which illustrates the process of creating a stadium of such magnitude, and introduces the mayor players in the stadium project. The film is followed by a virtual tour of the completed stadium in as it will look in 2010.

Mlamli Mangcala is the zealous MC for the duration of the trip and he leads visitors from the auditorium to the viewing platform. From a 3-storey high deck, visitors can gawk at the stadium under intense construction. The rubble from the old stadium is processed for re-use in an on-site factory, and tractors, graders and building materials are frantically ferried around by men in yellow hardhats. Mangcala explains that nearly 2000 workers are on site daily. He says that upon completion the stadium will hold 68 000 spectators which will be reduced to 55 000 after 2010. The Stadium will consist of 7 levels which includes; parking, changing rooms and media areas. The high-tech roof will have a double parabolic shape and will not protrude above the 72 supporting pylons. It will have a translucent glass surface and a lower fabric covering. It is designed like a large flat bicycle wheel with the rim resting on 72 raking columns and the hub in tension which together with the spokes will create a stable structure. Walkways will link the Green Point Park and stadium precinct to the Atlantic Ocean walkways, the historical Mouille Point lighthouse and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The Visitor Centre is available as a unique soccer-themed venue for hire. The presidential suite of the old Green Point Stadium has been given a contemporary make-over and is ideal for small and medium functions. The 130-seater auditorium has a 8×9 metre screen and a 9 x 12 meter stage and is fully equipped with audio-visual equipment. The boardroom has capacity for up to 35 delegates (depending on seating requirements), a service bar and kitchen is available.

Kathy Viscardi is the Event Manager at the Centre and she explains that the venue is ideal for industry related functions and is currently used by the Cape Town Partnership, Puma and Provincial Government. In a partnership with the Department of Education bus loads of school children are given the opportunity to visit the stadium. Viscardi says this is a positive effort to create interest and understanding in the construction industry with the hope of getting youngsters to consider construction as a career. Viscardi says that the Centre can also cater to individual needs and themes, and that it is steadily attracting interest from diverse groups.

What is unique to the Centre is that it is only available as a venue for hire until the doors open to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The stadium is expected to be completed by December 2009, and will be host to at least nine games which include a quarter final and a semi-final game.

Astrid Stark



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