Port Elizabeth, in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan, has turned the first sods of soil for a new stadium that will help host the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The five-tier, 1.1 billion Rand (approximately $150m USD) Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will be built overlooking the North End Lake, at the heart of the city. It is one of three coastal stadiums being built in anticipation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile, was present for the auspicious occasion and reminded all present to be extremely vigilant when it came to the construction of their stadium as it needed to adhere to FIFA's strict requirements. He also expressed the hope that the stadium would be completed in time for the FIFA inspection team to decide on the host cities for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009.
This is the first time a world-class football stadium will be built in the Eastern Cape Province, where, previously, projects of this nature would only have been undertaken for Rugby Union. The stadium boasts 150 VIP suites, 60 business suites, a sports clothing shop, gymnasium, 500 parking bays, plus lecture and function rooms, and is scheduled for completion in December 2008.
Inevitably, there has been a great deal of speculation about the status of stadium construction in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, with the requirement that all the FIFA World Cup host stadiums must be completed by January 2010. The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the first of five new stadiums to start construction in the near future. The other new arenas to be built are in Cape Town, Durban, Polokwane and Nelspruit.