World Cup Stadia 2010: The Moses Mabhida Stadium
This is the second in our series of posts on the new stadium under construction in South Africa for World Cup 2010. See our previous post on Green Point Stadium.
South Africa’s Wembley Stadium? With its soaring arches, Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, currently under construction, certainly has a passing resemblance to London’s white elephant. The arch in Durban is slated to be a little bit special, though: the arch also serves as a pedestrian walkway, so spectators will be able to traverse the stadium 100 metres above the pitch by foot or go up there via a cable car lift. The arch will apparently even offer bungee jumping (hopefully not during World Cup matches).
The new venue is being constructed on the site of the Kings Park Soccer Stadium, and will play host to one of the semi-finals in the World Cup.
The stadium is multi-purpose, built for rugby and — crucially — athletics, as Durban eyes a 2020 Olympic bid. Unfortunately, this means a running track will run around the pitch at the World Cup. The three-tier 70,000 capacity is expandable to 85,000 with temporary seating, to meet Olympic criteria.
The stadium is located in what will be one of the most remarkable sports settings in the world, with surrounding facilities allowing the area to host up to 40 sports, and a walkway running to it from the city’s centre. Particularly attractive is the stadium’s direct walkway to the beach, just 200m away.
The initial plan was to name the stadium King Senzangakhona Stadium, but that was changed in 2007 in a political controversy, when the powers-that-be decided instead to honour Moses Mabhida, an ANC activist and leader of the Communist Party in the time of Apartheid.
Here is the stadium as it stood under construction last week; progress has been swift (compared to Wembley!).
The shadows cast on the field here suggest some concern for 2010. With the shadows and the running track, the stadium — despite its stunning exterior and location — may attract some complaints during the World Cup, but the stunning arch ensures that Moses Mabhida Stadium will be an iconic venue in 2010 and perhaps more importantly for the city, also for the Olympics in 2020.