The City of Cape Town has not managed to sort out its problems in making the Cape Town Stadium financially viable, and an extensive public participation process is to be launched to give ratepayers and residents in the Green Point, Mouille Point and Sea Point areas in particular an opportunity to make themselves heard about the Stadium and the ‘Green Point Park’ (sic), the City not knowing its correct name! The public has until 31 March to express its concerns and respond to the choice of options proposed.

The City blames the prolonged recession, its failure to find a premium anchor tenant, and ‘restrictive zoning laws’ for the Stadium not being financially viable, and for placing a financial burden on the citizens of Cape Town.  One wonders why the City fathers did not research the future viability of the R4 billion stadium, built only for eight World Cup 2010 matches!

According to the Atlantic Sun, City of Cape Town Councillor Bev Schafer said the participation process is one of the largest ever, and will influence how the Green Point Urban Park and the Stadium will be run.   She has urged locals living in the affected areas to study what is being proposed.  The City has printed 3000 copies of the 48-page plan, and distributed them to ratepayers’ associations, libraries, and other community bodies, with five options proposed for the area:

*   The City of Cape Town operates the Cape Town Stadium, with an anchor tenant (very likely with naming rights, which may be at the cost of brand ‘Cape Town‘)

*   An independent operator operates the Stadium, with an anchor tenant (same risk of losing the ‘Cape Town‘ brand)

*   The anchor tenant is the operator too

*   The City of Cape Town operates the Stadium, without an anchor tenant, or an independent operator runs the Stadium, without an anchor tenant

*    A public/private partnership between the City and the private sector.

Mayor Patricia de Lille is quoted as saying that the public participation process is designed to find a long term sustainable solution for the Cape Town Stadium.  The Cape Town Stadium and the Green Point Urban Park generated R13 million in the 12 month period since August last year, compared to a reported cost of more than R50 million per annum.  Mayor de Lille shared the plans to increase the revenue, which include the refurbishment of the Stadium Visitor Centre; the introduction of an on-line Fan Retail Store by the end of 2013; the creation of a conference facility; more mobile food and beverage vending machines will be allowed on the 6th floor and in the external podium area; Ajax soccer club has signed a three year deal to use the Stadium for its practice sessions; the City is still negotiating with Western Province Rugby to move to the Stadium; Big Concerts is bringing big acts such as Justin Bieber and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; and a hotel option has been expressed, as has a hospital, a sports clinic, and a sports-related education facility.  For the Green Point Urban Park it is proposed to build an eco-centre, and to open both a tearoom and a ‘green café’.  In the Business Plan Mayor de Lille writes that making the Cape Town Stadium viable will help make Cape Town the Events Capital of Africa!

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe said that they have received four proposals for motor racing events, including Formula One,  but expressed concern and sensitivity for the residents in the area, saying that events must be spread across all of Cape Town and not just be concentrated in the Green/Mouille/Sea Point areas, and that residents in these areas have tolerated much disturbance already! ‘I don’t want to burden this area and irritate them to a point that we start (fighting) all over again’, he is quoted as saying.  The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association has been critical of the traffic problems which were caused by the Linkin Park and Lady Gaga concerts held at the Stadium recently.

The five options sound similar but have vastly different implications from a branding perspective, and the ratepayer burden in funding the loss in operating the Stadium, but probably make little impact on the residents on the area. What is of concern is the attempt to turn the Stadium area into a late-night party area with restaurants and bars, as well as shops, creating more noise!  The building of two four-storey buildings, one to house a hotel, sport science centre or offices, and one for parking, will cause further congestion when events are hosted at the Cape Town Stadium!

Business Plan for Cape Town Stadium and Green Point Park’

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage