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World Cup Venue Preview: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

NMB Stadium 2


PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — With the World Cup draw firmly in the past, the attention can now turn to the final countdown towards the opening match of the 2010 World Cup. An estimated 450,000 fans will descend upon South Africa next year in June and July.

Nine cities will play host during that time, one of those being the city of Port Elizabeth, a lesser-known areas looking to use the cup to increase their international stature.

Port Elizabeth sits in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, renamed that back in 2005 in honor of South Africa's iconic leader. The town of 1.3 million is known as the Friendly City, and the warm hospitality and courtesy of the locals will ensure that things will run smoothly next June.

At the center of it all is the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, the first newly-built stadium completed as part of the preparations for 2010. Costing R1.1 million ($150 million), the beautiful structure sits next to a lake close to the center of Port Elizabeth. With a capacity of 46,500, it has already held a number of matches, including a friendly between South Africa and Japan.

The stadium is a proud achievement for the locals, many of whom work in hospitality. While the area isn't quite the touristy hot spot of Cape Town, many South Africans travel out to enjoy the beaches during the summer.

There is hope here that visitors during the World Cup will increase the stature of both the town and municipality, drawing more international travelers.

Eight games will be hosted at the stadium during the cup, with five held during the group stages. Of particular excitement to the people in PE is the arrival of the English to town, as well as the match-up between Potugal and Ivory Coast. On June 12, NMB will host its very first World Cup game when Greece meet South Korea.

The players and fans will be greeted that day by a state-of-the-art stadium. It's an intimate feel, as the seats all sit close enough to the field — even at the top of the third tier, there's an accessibility that will reassure fans who saved money and bought the cheaper tickets.

NMB Stadium

Like a number of the other stadiums, the big question surrounding NMB remains what will happen to it once the World Cup has come in gone. It is supposed to be used in the community, hosting rugby matches between local teams, as well as a potential home for Bay United FC, the local soccer club. However, that can only happen if the club can win promotion back into the Premier Soccer League.

Whatever happens, it's clear that the fans of England, Portugal, Ivory Coast, Greece and the other traveling fans will be well-taken care of when they reach the Friendly City. It's a place that certainly lives up to its nickname.


  1. How is it that the US got the worst stadium(a 40,000 seat stadium with a big track and no all-around roofing for a game vs England that would sell-out in Soccer City with 100,000+ American and England fans coming to South Africa.

  2. don’t you love how these people are all of a sudden south africa authorities when most of them have never even been. I however have. They should keep most of these guys that are scared of South Africa in their suburbs so they won’t get hurt in a big bad city.

  3. The 94 World Cup had the “Big Event” feel to it, such that a Cameroon-Russia match could sell out the then-85,000 seat Stanford Stadium (the amazed French journalists, thinking ahead to France ’98, commented that such a match would only attract 45,000 spectators in France).

    It’s great to have NFL-quality stadiums, and those will always be a strong point of any US World Cup bid. But if they’re only half-filled, what’s the point? And if they’re purpose-built for the event, with no real post-WC purpose, it becomes wasteful.

  4. There is only structure in the World I am aware of that would have the capacity to accommodate all the demand for World Cup tickets and it isn’t available for sporting venue use.

    “The current structure covers an area of 400,800 square metres (99.0 acres) including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to four million worshippers during the Hajj period, one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.”

  5. Pretoria. The US lucked out (or didn’t depending on whether or not you like to travel) and got matches in Rustenburg, Johannesburg and Pretoria, all within an hour and a half drive of one another. ALG-SVN is in Polokwane. ENG-ALG is in Cape Town. ENG-SVN is in Nelson Mandela Bay. USMNT won’t have to relocate during the group phase which might be good.

  6. reece, what are you talking about, in Germany 06 6 of 12 stadiums had a capacity of less then 50,000, and 9 of 12 under 55,000, it’s ridiculous to think a country should be expected have or build 12 stadiums with capacities over 60,000

  7. Well if you can’t have good sized stadiums…. DONT HOST THE WORLD CUP!!!! It’s unfair to the rest of the world who cant get tickets. Europe, USA, or Brazil, heck even Aussieland would atleast have 60K+

  8. I clearly didn’t claim South Africa has no crime issues, buddy. I merely pointed out that: 1. The news article–now removed by SBI–reported one side of an issue, an issue that anyone familiar with South Africa has heard for 15 years; and 2. It’s ironic for people in a country with a history of white flight to decry crime in decaying urban centers. The SA organizing committee put these stadiums in downtown areas for the same purposes many US teams did in the downtown of US cities: stick them in blighted areas (where construction and land are cheaper) and hope that the surrounding areas gentrify. It’s not laughable to compare some SA cities to the urban centers of Baltimore, The Bronx, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, or other places where stadiums are supposed to be a lynch pin for urban development

  9. Hey Steve, South Africa has some of the worst crime rates in the world. That’s a fact, buddy. Are you really denying South Africa has serious problems with crime, among other things?

    And if it weren’t for billions pumped into the country for the World Cup (and still, it almost didn’t work), the venues would be in even worse shape. Comparing them to American cities is beyond laughable.

  10. Ole didn’t mention that this article is put out by the notoriously conservative Sapa, and basically summarizes a criticism of the ANC regional powers that the conservative minority has been making since 1994: the ANC is corrupt and there’s more crime now than there was under Apartheid. I’d take this about as seriously as a Fox news report on Obama’s healthcare plan. The whole point of this SBI post is to familiarize Americans w/ a world cup site. You could find an article about violence/allegations of corruptions in any number of places in the US that are vying to host in 2018, so don’t blow this out of proportion

    (SBI-The aforementioned article was removed because we don’t allow the copying of articles onto the site. If someone wants to provide a link they are more than welcome to.)

  11. Because there has to be some kind of sustainability to what gets left behind. You can’t expect every venue to be over 100K and then sit barely used for the next several decades.

  12. After Portugal claiming losses in maintenance fees after their Euro 2004 venues were left dormant, and Greece’s facilities growing weeds, this will soon be a festering cement toilet in no time!

    Way to go Fifa!

  13. Maybe that stadium can be packed up and sent to Washington D.C., Kansas City, Houston, San Jose, or New England after the World Cup.


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