Mighty Loftus readies itself
On any given weekend, anyone who finds themselves in Tshwane/Pretoria will have no problem finding the mighty Loftus Versfeld stadium as the cheers and shouts of sports fans drift across the city.
Loftus Versfeld, or Loftus as it is known to the local fans, is one of the most established stadiums in South Africa. Built in 1906 it is now home to champion Super 14 rugby team, the Blue Bulls as well as many top flight Premier Soccer League (PSL) clashes, with the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns battling it out on the hallowed pitch.
With its rich heritage and fanatical fan base Loftus was an easy choice to host matches in the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Undergoing minor upgrades, the 50,000 seater stadium is more than ready for the world spotlight.
With a long football and rugby season now having ended, extensive work has gone into ensuring the pitch will be of top-class quality for the calibre of football teams that will play there.
The biggest piece of renovation work has been the new roof over the east stand of the stadium while the aesthetics of Loftus and its surrounds were given a makeover to welcome the thousands of fans in June.
"Everything is on track and we are very happy with the progress leading up to the Confederations Cup," said the Tshwane/Pretoria 2010 coordinator, Godfrey Nkwane.
With the preparations out the way it is a matter of waiting for the teams and fans . With the much anticipated match-up between Brazil and Italy on 21 June there will certainly be no shortage of support at Loftus during the tournament.
To make extra sure that everything will run smoothly the city conducted a number of tests on the stadium and its surrounding infrastructure over the last few weeks.
"We have had a number of dry runs testing both the stadium and the surrounding areas with our ‘park and walk' and ‘park and ride' facilities being used for the Super 14 rugby semi-final and final as well as for the PSL fixture between Santos and Kaizer Chiefs. We are very happy with the outcome of these tests and the feedback we have received from the public has been great," said Nkwane.
For Nkwane the city of Tshwane/Pretoria is already in a festive mood as final preparations are put in place.
"Everyone in the city is excited for the upcoming matches, especially the Brazil and Italy clash and with the increased marketing around the city you can definitely feel that something exciting is around the corner".