Since we were selected to host the Soccer World Cup, some time has passed. In that time, my feelings and opinions on this subject have become stronger and stronger to the point where I must write this post just to get it off my chest. I am interested to see readers comments on this one.
The main issue as far as Cape Town is concerned seems to be the location of the stadium. In my naive mind, the perfect place to put the stadium is Athlone. Aparently I wasn’t far wrong because the study done by the city into the matter presented Athlone as the second best option, with Newlands as the best. Not sure why Newlands was number 1, but I guess it has to do with the fact that there is already a large stadium there.
Considering that our number one priority in South Africa is the upliftment of the previously disadvantaged, it seems to me that having the stadium in Athlone is a no brainer. There will be massive investment in the area, it will create business opportunities for the people of Athlone and increase the value of the properties and I don’t know what all else. I am no expert but my semi-intelligent brain tells me there will be a lot of positive benefit for the area. So that is one giant plus factor which should make is a cut and dried decision. But in case you are having doubts, there are more reasons why it should be in Athlone: it’s accessible and central, there is already a stadium there, there is plenty of land available for other infrastructure, the environmental impact will be less. Why would we deny the suburb of Athlone this opportunity of upliftment and integration. What do I mean by integration? Well, I have lived in Cape Town for 8 years but have never been to Athlone, but if the stadium was there I would probably go to Athlone on occasion, along with thousands of other people. That’s what I mean by integration. I would say that not putting the stadium in Athlone would be a sin.
Now, the thing that really got my goat was learning why the stadium is not going to be in Athlone but in Greenpoint: because FIFA said “people don’t want to see shacks”. FIFA said we must put the stadium in Greenpoint so that’s where we are putting the stadium. Who the hell is FIFA to come here and ruin our beautiful city as well as deny the people of Athlone this upliftment opportunity? Firstly there are no shacks in Athlone, it’s a perfectly decent suburb, not larney, but decent. There are a myriad of VERY important reasons why the stadium should not be in Greenpoint. Did you see the article in the Cape Times with the artist’s impression of how the stadium will look? Using the traditional view of Table Mountain from Blaauberg, the 16 storey stadium looks like a huge wart on a beautiful landscape. Apparently Greenpoint’s sewerage system is already overloaded, what will a 60 000 seater stadium do to the sewerage system? I don’t know much about the ecological impact of the stadium in Greenpoint, but from what I have read it’s not going to be good, especially considering the land has been set aside as a ‘green area’. Do I even have to mention traffic? Getting to and through Greenpoint is currently a difficult thing, putting the stadium there will make the traffic situation impossible. I have also read that this stadium, which we can’t afford, will be leased free of charge to an ‘operator’ who will keep the profits from the use of the stadium. So the city will not see any financial benefit from the eyesore, I mean stadium.
Quite frankly, if we can’t build the stadium in Athlone I think we should rather not host any games in Cape Town. Building the stadium will put us into serious debt and what will we do with a stadium that size afterwards? That money should rather be used to sort out infrastructure and services throughout Cape Town. Now that is a worthwhile long term investment. People seem to think that we will see some enormous financial benefit from the visitors over the time of the World Cup, well let me tell you a little secret, everybody wants to come to Cape Town. I am willing to bet that if we do not host any games here, 80% of the people who come to SA for the World Cup will still come to Cape Town anyway. So we will get most of that benefit plus save billions. Sounds absolutely perfect to me. Let’s rather use the next 3 years and the billions of Rands to make the city safer, sort out the sewerage problems that we apparently have from lack of maintenance, sort out the traffic problems, build houses for the homeless, provide electricty and waste removal to everyone. Let’s use some of that money to invest in recycling initiatives, let’s look into energy alternatives. There is an endless list of things we could do with that money rather than build a stupid stadium. We will ruin our city for ever just to host one stupid sport event for one month.
FIFA can frek right off. I hope Helen Zille (who is doing a great job as mayor by the way) reads this and gives it some serious consideration. It will take balls to go this route but I think it’s the best route for us. Phew, right, I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve got that off my chest. We should start a campaign: No World Cup for Cape Town!