Monocolumn: The Empty Stadiums: South Africa’s White Elephants
What should a city do with a football stadium no one uses, sitting on prime land in the centre of town?
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What should a city do with a football stadium no one uses, sitting on prime land in the centre of town? Demolish it, you say.
The answer would be simpler were the question not over the future of the new but already iconic Cape Town stadium, completed only six months ago for the World Cup at a cost of R4.5bn (€460m).
The stadium, on Green Point Common, has been controversial since before it was even built. Many Capetonians believe it should have been built at Athlone, on the impoverished Cape Flats, where most of the city’s football fans live. There, a club might have been found for it after the World Cup. But the world football’s governing body, Fifa, insisted on the city centre location, offering Cape Town a semi-final on the condition that it be played well out of sight of shacks and poverty. The government and local organising committee acquiesced. The then mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, won round her citizens by securing Stade de France – the French company that manages Paris’s top stadium – to operate the venue after the World Cup.