Soccer City in Soweto, Johannesburg is due to host the opening and final game of next year’s football World Cup, and it is looking impressive at the moment, as all construction and progress is going smoothly. The venue is aiming to be complete by October this year, in preparation for the competition in June and July 2010.
The precinct around the stadium is taking shape, while turnstiles are being put up and the stadium's roof is also almost finished with only a couple of touches left to complete the calabash-style design.
Last week the media were taken on a tour of the stadium, and after the customary safety talk, the assorted journalists were given hard hats and safety bibs.
Looking at the stadium from the outside is quite an experience, as the towering monster of a venue takes up a massive area and is very imposing indeed, but going into the stadium truly allows one to understand the magnitude of the place.
The orange seats, of which about 90 percent have been installed, make for a good looking interior of the stadium, with a number of international journalists making favourable comments regarding its design and the size of the construction.
While most of the stadium seats are orange, there are nine vertical lines of seats (visible in the video below), which are painted black, and an official at the ground told Goal.com that the lines pointed towards the other nine stadia that will be hosting games at next year’s World Cup. Soccer City is 10 kilometres from the Johannesburg city centre, on the outskirts of Soweto. With a capacity of 94 700, the stadium will be the biggest stadium in Africa after its completion.
Officials at the ground said the pitch grass was ready to be planted and would also be ready for test matches by October. Most of the work now is on sprucing up the stadium's 184 suites. The VIP suite is a massive affair that can accommodate 300 people. Private boxes, eight television presentation studios, a football museum and a 300-seat restaurant have also been added to the original FNB Stadium.
A parking area for 15 000 vehicles is currently being built. From an engineering point of view, Soccer City is the biggest roofed stadium to be built for a World Cup. The stadium will not only be used for football matches, as rugby will be played there as well. But the most striking feature of the stadium is its calabash-shaped design, selected from a number of competing designs.
The calabash was picked because it is a uniquely African object and is a recognisable symbol of the African continent. The calabash, or "melting pot of African cultures", sits on a raised podium, on top of which is located a "pit of fire", according to the designers.
Spectators and worldwide television audiences will be left with the impression that they are sitting inside this giant cauldron. The video clip below shows the inside of the stadium, with almost all of the seating completed, and only the pitch and other internal parts of the stadium needing to be completed to make the ground into a world class venue.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com