Mbombela Stadium

Mbombela Stadium
Africa's Wildest Stadium
Exterior view of Mbombela Stadium.JPG
Location Masafeni Rd. Nelspruit
Coordinates 25°27′40″S 30°55′44″E / 25.461°S 30.929°E / -25.461; 30.929Coordinates: 25°27′40″S 30°55′44″E / 25.461°S 30.929°E / -25.461; 30.929
Broke ground February 2007
Opened October 2009
Owner Mbombela Local Municipality
Operator Platinum Sport
Surface Rye grass & Desso GrassMaster
Construction cost Rand 1.05 billion
(US$ 140 million)
Architect R&L Architects
Capacity 40,929[1]
Bidvest Wits (PSL) (2010-present)
Pumas (Currie Cup) (2010-present)

Mbombela Stadium is a newly built, all-seater, 40,929-seat stadium and was one of the ten venues[2] for the FIFA World Cup 2010. It is located on open land six kilometres west of Nelspruit, South Africa, the capital of the Mpumalanga province.

The stadium has the same name as Nelspruit's new name. In October 2009, Nelspruit was officially renamed Mbombela by the South African government.[3] However, FIFA's 2010 World Cup web site refers to the city as "Nelspruit."

The stadium is the centrepiece of a proposed wider sports precinct with athletics and cricket as well as other sporting codes.

The R1,050-million sports facility was ready for use well ahead of the June 2010 World Cup kickoff. The stadium was made possible through taxpayer funding.

The multi-purpose stadium, which is expected to host key soccer and rugby matches, is also equipped with conference facilities.



Construction commenced in February 2007 and was completed in November 2009. The construction contract was awarded to a South AfricanFrench consortium of Basil Read Construction and Bouygues Construction.

The structure is founded on 1,500 piles on a 10m structural grid. Each roof support (in the shape of a giraffe) sits on 18 piles on the 30m major structural bay. The 10m span seating beams are prestressed and most of the 3,170 units were pre-cast on site.

The project was subjected to numerous wildcat strikes. With the 5th and final strike, all main contract labourers were dismissed.[4] All subsequent work was performed by subcontractors.

During a freak storm in January 2009, a tower crane blew over and cut through the partially completed roof. The site was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries.[5] The construction required a total of 5.5 million man-hours to complete.

The site accident history was exceptionally safe with the worst injury being a broken ankle. A record was set of 2.4 million consecutive injury-free hours.


View of the exterior roof supports that resemble giraffes.

The stadium design reflects its inter-relation with the nearby Kruger National Park. The signature feature of the stadium are the 18 roof supports that resemble giraffes. The seats are patterned with zebra stripes. Visitors to the venue can easily add on a side-trip to the game reserve.


View of the seats and field inside Mbombela Stadium.

The bowl design aimed to put every seat as close as practical to the field action and maintain excellent sightlines over the heads of spectators. This venue is the most compact arena of all 2010 venues. Most seats are covered by the cantilever roof.

The seating is divided into 3 tiers with 21,000 lower tier, 3,500 middle tier and 19,000 on the upper tier. The upper tier is accessed by 8 wide ramps located on the corners. The ramps accommodates small delivery vehicles. The middle tier, which is accessed by elevators, has premium seating with a VIP lounge, restaurant, club lounges and 25 private boxes.


Panoramic view of stadium's interior.

The pitch is sized for association football(105x68m). It is floodlit to 2,200 lux to meet FIFA requirements. The stadium will be used intensely for training and matches. The cool season rye grass pitch grown from seed is reinforced with Desso GrassMaster artificial turf fibres which anchor the field, creating what is essentially a semi-synthetic pitch for a stable and a level grass surface.

The pitch was the cause of great concern and some ridicule 5 months before the World Cup, but its perfect performance in its first real test on 16 May 2010 silenced the critics.[6]


The 1,450 tonne roof covers an area of 22,500 square metres and 94% of the seats. The roof is 35m above the pitch. Half of the roof is translucent to maximise sunlight to the pitch and to lighten the seating bowl. The roof appears to float above the top of the seating bowl with a 8m gap to provide ventilation in the hot climate and also to provide views to the surrounding hills from the seats.

The structure is a propped cantilever on a 30m module with the steel towers for the tension rods doubling as symbolic giraffe necks. The floor of the service catwalk is 100mm thick concrete as ballast to resist wind uplift.

Controversies and Corruption

Allegations of corruption relating to the awarding of construction contracts in the building of the stadium have plagued the project.[7] At least three individuals were murdered in connection with the allegations, and another three have died under mysterious circumstances.[8] Corruption related to the construction resulted in the provincial government taking over the running of the municipaility and construction management by placing it under administration in June 2007.[9] When the Mbombela municipality was reinstated 5 months later the outspoken new mayor also received death threats warning him to remain silent about the evidence of corruption.

In addition, as with many other South African stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup, promises of improvements to the impoverished surrounding neighborhood have not been fulfilled.[10] Students from the local primary and high schools had to be relocated to container classrooms and the old schools used by the General Contractor. To make way for a replacement school, a wetland in Nelspruit was bulldozed, but no environmental impact assessment was done before the wetland was destroyed. It took multiple violent protests to get the authorities to finally build the new schools 3 years after they were promised.[11]

2010 FIFA World Cup

Date Time (UTC+2) Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Attendance
2010-06-16 13.30 Honduras Honduras 0–1 Chile Chile Group H 32,664
2010-06-20 16.00 Italy Italy 1–1 New Zealand New Zealand Group F 38,229
2010-06-23 20.30 Australia Australia 2–1 Serbia Serbia Group D 37,836
2010-06-25 16.00 North Korea Korea DPR 0–3 Côte d'Ivoire Cote d'Ivoire Group G 34,763

Football (soccer)

On 16 May 2010, the stadium was officially opened with an international friendly match between South Africa and Thailand. South Africa won 4–0, leading 3–0 at half time.

The stadium was again used by South Africa when they beat Niger 2–0 on 4 September 2010, in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

On 14 November 2010, the stadium hosted its first Premier Soccer League match. Wits have moved their match against Mamelodi Sundowns to the stadium.[12]

Rugby at the Stadium

The Pumas are the main rugby tenants. They will play all Currie Cup matches at the stadium, while most Vodacom Cup matches will be played at Puma Stadium.[13]

The stadium held its first rugby match on 27 August 2010. The Pumas hosted the Blue Bulls in a 2010 Currie Cup match.[14] Pumas won 22–21, trailing 10–11 at half time.[15]

The Pumas made use of the stadium again, when they hosted Western Province on 17 September 2010. Western Province won the match 62-10.

See also


  1. ^ "Mbombela Stadium: the stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa". FIFA.com. http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/stadiums/stadium=5007763/index.html. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  2. ^ "FIFA.com – A guide to all the stadiums to be used at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa". FIFA.com. http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/stadiums/index.html. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  3. ^ "BusinessDay – Mashatile postpones name changes after ‘technicality’". BusinessDay. http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=92376. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  4. ^ "2010 stadium staff fired". Times LIVE. 2009-09-01. http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article63272.ece. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  5. ^ "Storm causes crane to collapse: News24: South Africa: News". News24. 2009-01-06. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Storm-causes-crane-to-collapse-20090106. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  6. ^ . London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2...m-south-africa. [dead link]
  7. ^ Bearak, Barry (2010-03-12). "Cost of Stadium Reveals Tensions in South Africa". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/world/africa/13stadium.html. 
  8. ^ "Scandal of SA's 'giraffe stadium'". BBC News. 2010-06-07. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/africa/10217817.stm. 
  9. ^ 2010 World Cup whistle-blower shot dead
  10. ^ "In the squalid shadows of SA stadium". BBC News. 2010-06-07. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8724018.stm. 
  11. ^ http://www.cup2010.info/w/Nelspruit/Mbombela.html
  12. ^ "Wits shift Downs match to Nelspruit". Kickoff.com. 2010-11-05. http://www.kickoff.com/news/18644/bidvest-wits-mamelodi-sundowns-game-moved-to-nelspruit.php. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  13. ^ http://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/Pumas-to-play-at-Mbombela-20110126
  14. ^ http://www.lowvelder.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1953:big-guns-clash-at-mbombela-stadium&catid=1:latest-news
  15. ^ http://supersport.com/rugby/currie-cup/news/100827/Pumas_christen_Mbombela_in_style

External links

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