3 June 2009
All upgrades to the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg will be complete this week, with the state-of-the-art facility set to welcome over 60 000 football fans for the opening ceremony and opening match of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.
The first game features hosts South Africa taking on Asian champions Iraq in a Group A match, while the final match and closing ceremony will also be held at the same venue.
Situated in central Johannesburg, Ellis Park has been transformed into a world-class showpiece, from the pristine beauty of the green grass on the playing field to the dressing rooms that boast jacuzzis and massage areas.
“[By Monday], the innovations at the stadium will be completed and it will be ready to accommodate the thousands of people who will be attending the Fifa Confederations Cup,” stadium project manager Zack Sejaphala told BuaNews during an exclusive tour of the stadium.
He said Fifa had been impressed by the extended and modern change rooms, while for the first time in its history, the stadium will have a paraplegic seating section that will cater for people with disabilities from the corner of the south stand to the north stand.
There is also a disability suite to house disabled dignitaries. Sejaphala said that Fifa wanted to ensure that people with disabilities enjoyed the game with the rest of the crowd, rather than being seated behind the teams’ bench.
The 61 400-seat stadium also boasts a gigantic stage at the north stand, not far from the newly built legacy tunnel, where artists will carry out their performances before and after games.
The stadium will accommodate more than 1 200 media officials, with two Fifa mixed-media zones having been completed with the broadcast compound being erected beneath the presidential suit.
Renovations have also been made to the VIP section at the west stand of the stadium and the top-notch presidential suits which have been expanded to accommodate more guests. About 150 seats covered in red suede have been built next to the suit.
The old sports shop has been renovated and turned into a temporary office for Fifa officials and the conference centre has been renovated and extended to accommodate 1 200 people and will serve as a media conference centre.
The nearby Johannesburg Stadium will be used as a Fifa hospitality centre, catering for officials and dignitaries.
According to Sejaphala, Fifa requires that President Jacob Zuma be seated between Fifa President Sepp Blatter and stadium CEO Paul Appalsamy in the front row of the presidential suite when the first whistle blows on 14 June.
The 15 metre prize-giving platform, situated below the presidential suits, has also been completed, and this is where the Fifa Confederations Cup winning team will collect the prize and lift the coveted trophy.
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