Gauteng is renowned as South Africa's economic hub, its lifeblood and its creative epicentre.

And as the province gears up to play host to no less than three 2010 FIFA World Cup venues, provincial officials are confident they are ahead of schedule with the construction of all host stadia ahead of the global showpiece.

Briefing the media this week on the provincial government's key achievements and challenges in realising its five-year 2010 programme, the province’s Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Minister Barbara Creecy said Gauteng would undoubtedly be ready to stage the 2010 FIFA World Cup in good time.

"The provincial government will ensure that we honor the commitments we have made to satisfy all FIFA's requirements and meet the high expectations of people throughout the continent and the world," said Creecy.

Gauteng is home to the Soccer City, Loftus Versfeld and Ellis Park 2010 venues. Ellis Park will be the main venue for next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 next year, while Soccer City will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening match and final.

Creecy said she noted that the substantial improvements in sporting infrastructure, transport systems, telecommunications and public facilities would benefit the people of Gauteng long after the FIFA World Cup was over.

The rebuilding of Soccer City, South Africa’s national football stadum, began in early 2007 and is expected to be finished by May 2009, five months ahead of the FIFA deadline.

The new Soccer City stadium will have 94 700 seats, which will be covered by a roof and draped in a traditional African calabash (shell) in a design feature similar to Munich’s showpiece Allianz Arena.

Loftus Versfeld manager Hugo Kemp said he was confident renovations at the stadium would be complete ahead of schedule in December 2008.

Ms Creecy cited that the department would further ensure that the stadia infrastructure development across the province benefits clubs and communities long after 2010.

In addition, the department will this year focus on finalising construction of the 2010 Legacy Stadia; the Sinaba and HM Pitje Stadia, which are earmarked as potential training venues.

In terms of South Africa’s world-renowned creative and art industries, Ms Creecy said her department was now equipped to take advantage of the large concentrations of creative industries in the province to further enhance job and wealth creation.

The Gauteng Craft and Design Centre (CDC) will be based at the Sandton Art Gallery, which is ideally positioned in the heart of the province's major retail area and which could prove popular for World Cup tourists.

Creecy added that more than R5.2 million has also been budgeted to support the music industry in the province, which will also prove a very popular 2010 attraction.

The funds will be used to grow musicians based in Gauteng and ensure that Gauteng retains its coveted status as the 'home of South African music'.

Come 2010, as it plays host to a galaxy of world football stars and the biggest event of them all, it will undoubtedly entrench its status as the country's home of football as well.