White elephant precinct

Some residents say that the move to commercialise Cape Town Stadium means it could up being used as a shopping mall.

The City of Cape Town has confirmed that spaces within the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point will be available for tender within the next six months as part of a move to commercialise the venue.

However, some residents have raised concerns about how some of these businesses would function should the stadium precinct be shut down during big events, as was the case with the Justin Bieber concert last week.

They are also concerned that the stadium will eventually be turned into yet another shopping mall.

The stadium was built for the 2010 soccer world cup but has been making an estimated loss of R40 million a year since then.

Green Point resident Ralph Malan said the City needs to consider what the most economically sound proposal for the stadium was. “They commissioned a very expensive economic feasibility study to support their commercialisation idea.”

Very significantly the brief for that economic feasibility study only permitted the City’s proposals to be considered.

“They wanted to know which of their proposals was best. They did not ask for advice as to what was economically the best idea.

“They did not want that because the best economic policy is to simply spend R20 million and get rid of the problem entirely,” said Mr Malan.

He added that if the space under the seat ramps were commercialised, they will no longer be able to close off the stadium precinct on event days. “They can’t tell the businesses there that they are to be closed for the day. If they can’t close off the stadium, then they cannot have arena events. The City can say it is no longer required because the Athlone Stadium is available. Two stadiums are not required. Hence, since the arena can no longer be used we may as well convert it to commercial use. So the entire stadium precinct will become a commercial precinct.”

Mr Malan concluded by saying that: “The City uses economics to justify their actions. That is wrong. The City is a civic organisation paid for by the public. They have a social obligation towards their public. They should be doing what is best for the community socially. They must do what is best for the community and that is not always what is cheapest or most profitable.”

Jenny McQueen, chairperson of the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, agreed with Mr Malan.

She said the GPRRA had always been very protective of the loss of public open space and were against commercialisation of the stadium and the lifting of the Granger Bay Boulevard restriction to enable commercialisation. “This was done ostensibly to make the stadium financially viable.

“However, all predictions were that the stadium would never become financially viable and were used extensively in arguments against it, and now the City is tinkering with a management model to try yet another way, which we all know will not work.

“We don’t know at this point what has happened to the tenders that were invited to take over the stadium and the Granger Bay Boulevard on a lease agreement. One can only surmise that nobody found that that would be profitable either as we have heard nothing.

“The City will just have to accept that it will never be profitable.”

Ms McQueen added that the fact that the stadium precinct had to be shut down on days that big matches or concerts were held at the stadium, was another example of why commercialisation would not work.

“Roads, are closed, there are traffic jams and no one is allowed anywhere near the stadium. How would the tenants on these premises be able to run a business, vacate their premises with total shutdown on an event day?

“And does this mean that if it is eventually fully commercialised then the stadium will no longer be able to be used for what it was intended?”

But Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, was confident that business as usual would be possible on event days.

“The City will, within the next six months, invite commercial proposals through a public tender process.

“Provision will be made for businesses to function as per their normal operating patterns. Road closures and road restrictions will be managed as per the dynamics of each event and will range from no closures around the stadium, to intermittent or partial restrictions, to full road closures (only under exceptional circumstances) as with current events hosted at the stadium,” added Mr Diamond.

He stressed that only two roads had been completely closed for the Justin Bieber concert on Wednesday last week – Fritz Sonnenberg Road and Vlei Road.

“This was primarily for safety and security reasons. Other roads experienced partial closures or restrictions.

“During the recent land use rezoning and amendments to the environmental conditions processes, various undertakings were given that commercial activities will be carefully assessed to enhance the overall vision and ethos of the surrounding environment rather than detract from it,” said Mr Diamond.