With the preparations nearing the end for the world’s greatest soccer spectacle to be held in South Africa in June 2010, the Text 100 Johannesburg (Jozi) team went on a tour of the newly refurbished Soccer City, the flagship stadium that will host the opening ceremony and the first match of the maiden soccer world cup to be hosted on the African continent. Soccer City will also be the venue where the last whistle for the tournament will be blown and the next soccer world champions will be crowned.
In the spirit of Football Friday, on Friday, 09 April, dressed in their Bafana Bafana supporter T-shirts, the Text 100 Jozi team put on their walking shoes and traversed the newly built Soccer City stadium. It was a good thing that we wore comfortable shoes as the tour was close to two hours long and covered all four levels of the stadium – all on foot.
As tiring as it was – and trust me it was – the experience left every single one of us in awe at what the builders and engineers had accomplished. From sitting 70,000 spectators before the renovations, the stadium has been transformed to a 94,000 sitter, world class facility, similar to what you would see if you watched Manchester United play at Old Trafford. We were even allowed into the media conference room from where the world will be fed with news from the tournament, and this is just as splendid. The media conference room will sit 200 journalists, with Ethernet ports available to each journalist as well as the panel, to enable instantaneous transfer of news updates via news sites as well as the numerous social networking sites and blogs. For all the Tweet heads out there, you can follow 2010saworldcup for World Cup news updates.
Talking about feeding, the stadium is shaped like a calabash – inspired by the traditional African pot. Surrounding the stadium is a ring of orange lights called “the ring of fire”, which our tour guide said was meant to keep the visitors warm during the cold June/July months. By the way, for all those who will be visiting South Africa for the World Cup, June and July happen to fall square in the middle of the winter season in the southern hemisphere, so pack your beanies and mittens when you come down here – even though our winter will probably feel like a not so warm Autumn/Fall night to some of you. But if the cold really gets to you, you can always pop in at the Text 100 Jozi office for a warm cup of coffee or soup.
By the end of the tour, everyone was revved up and eagerly awaiting the kick off whistle to sound.
Construction at the nine other World Cup stadiums is at an advanced stage with some of the stadiums already hosting high profile local matches. If what we saw is anything to go by, South Africa is ready to dish out a successful and memorable World Cup, and as South Africans, we look forward to welcoming all the soccer lovers to our beautiful shores.