By Emily Visser
Johannesburg - Johannesburg's two key stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - Soccer City and Ellis Park - are well on schedule and will be completed within predicted timeframes.
Joburg.org reports that Ellis Park will be ready well in advance of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 taking place next June. It is expected the stadium will be completed in November 2008.
Soccer City will be finished in May 2009.
"We are very happy with the progress on Ellis Park and on Soccer City. It's really exciting to see how fast things are moving.
"Every time I visit the stadiums progress is visible," said Sibongile Mazibuko, the City's executive director for 2010. Mazibuko is responsible for co-ordinating and implementing the City's 2010 programme.
Construction has not been without its hitches, however, at the Ellis Park site, work has to be co-ordinated as the stadium is in continuous use.
Areas have to be made safe for public use and some of the work has to be done during window periods when no sporting activities are taking place at the stadium.
Some of the major complications at Soccer City include additional work to the original structure which could not have been foreseen during the design process.
Design requirements in the form of piles and columns for the roof had to be added. FIFA also added extra requirements to the design and construction later in the project.
And finally, the challenge of transporting the roof structure, which was manufactured in Italy, to South Africa had to be overcome. But today, the roof is almost halfway to completion.
In the past year work at both stadiums has also had to contend with rising construction costs, with steel prices alone increasing by 70 percent.
However, Soccer City's progress was recently applauded when Jerome Valcke, the FIFA Secretary-General, paid Johannesburg a quick visit. He commented that work on the stadium was "impressive".
The project is on programme schedule and 44 percent complete.
The stadium was completely demolished late in 2006, and the rebuilding started in 2007. The builder's rubble from the original construction has been used in the rebuilding.
Various aspects were at different stages, the 2010 office confirmed. The stadium's support structures are completed and the roof is 45 percent finished. Structural and pre-cast concrete work is also progressing well.
The stadium has increased its seating by 34 percent and will have place for 94 700 people through three tiers of seating, private boxes and VIP suites.
The media will be accommodated in eight television presentation studios. There will also be a soccer museum and a 300-seater restaurant.
"I must also say that our construction partners on the project, the workers and everyone associated with the stadiums' upgrades are very mindful of the enormous obligation we have to have these completed on time and to FIFA standards.
"They are committed to helping us achieve this and so I have no doubt that our excellent progress will continue for the remainder of the project period," Mazibuko added.
The stadium is expected to be completed by May 2009.
While Soccer City is a completely new construction, Ellis Park stadium - soon to be renamed Coca-Cola Park - is getting a major revamp ahead of the world cup.
Building started in the latter part of 2007 and is now nearing completion, with final fittings in progress. These include tiling and improvements to the foyer areas as well as new change rooms and toilet blocks.
Seating is also receiving some attention to cater for disabled people. Alterations to seating are completed except for balustrades, which still need to be erected. The buttressing of the parkade and northern area was completed early in January this year.
Most of the pre-cast concrete work to the stadium is completed. The roof structure is being erected and is 35 percent complete. Workers have started sheeting the roof structure.
All the lighting within the stadium was also replaced in June.
In June and July 2009, Ellis Park will be the most important venue for the Confederations Cup, with the opening ceremony taking place there as well as a number of games.
The stadium will be completed and ready for this event well before time.
And in 2010, the stadium is earmarked to host five first-round matches, a second round match and one of the quarter-finals for the World Cup.
Ellis Park will seat 62 000 football fans, increasing its capacity by almost 9 percent from the previous 57 000.