PRESS RELEASE: Sod turning heralds plans to enhance FNB Stadium pitch
City Manager, Trevor Fowler, yesterday officiated a sod-turning ceremony just before the start of the game between Kaizer Chiefs and Amazulu. The ceremony heralds the start of the city’s programme to provide a ‘carpet-perfect pitch’ both for tournament and for other events to be hosted there as the stadium is regarded as a multipurpose stadium vs. a soccer stadium.
Stages erected for the recent Lady Gaga and Linkin Park concerts are said to have caused some damage to the pitch, and the city is acting swiftly to ensure that the facility is suitable for multi use.
Desso, a unique playing surface that employs a combination of natural and artificial grass, will be used to give both players and spectators the best possible soccer experience. Desso surfaces, which are excellent long-term solutions for stadiums that need to be in peak condition year-round, are created by injecting artificial fibres 20 centimetres into the ground. These cover about 3% of the surface and encourage the growth of natural grass, which uses the artificial fibres as a root stabiliser.
According to Chris Vondo, the city’s member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for community development, players can expect a ‘carpet-perfect pitch’ for the Afcon kick-off.
“The 2010 Fifa World Cup was the first international tournament to be played on a Desso pitch, and it proved very popular amongst players and match officials,” he said. “The system also was installed atNelspruit's Mbombela Stadium and Polokwane's Peter Mokaba Stadium, and the field at Wembley Stadium in the UK was also replaced with Desso in 2010 too.”
Speaking at an update meeting held with the City of Joburg on 22 November, Afcon local organising committee (LOC) CEO, Mvuzo Mbebe said: “We feel certain this pitch will be at the standard we require it to be. The City of Joburg is quite advanced in (its) preparations, and we are happy with developments both here and at the Dobsonville, Rand, Orlando and Milpark Stadiums, which will be used as training venues.”
The city’s municipality, which began the 100-day countdown for the tournament on 11 October, is ready and able to provide both a perfect pitch and all of the support services so crucial to the success of an event like Afcon.
“The FNB Stadium seats 87, 000 people,” says Vondo, “and attendance at the opening and closing matches, which are to be held there, is expected to be close to capacity. Needless to say, this requires the kind of facility and seamless support services that only a world-class city can provide, and we’ve taken every aspect of what will be needed into account.”
Mbebe says the LOC is comfortable with all of the plans for the event presented by the city: “All that is left for us is to get tickets and to come to the stadium in large numbers on January 19."
According to the city’s Afcon project coordinator, Bongi Bokaba, a number of events have been planned to create visibility for the high-profile opening and closing matches, and will ensure that locals and visitors alike get to fully enjoy the first big international soccer event in Jozi since 2010.
"Our commitment is to ensure that our residents embrace Afcon in line with the LOC's call to action, which is 'eyethu - Be Part of it',” she says. “Joburg has a unique vibe, and we want to share that with everyone attending the matches here.”
For further information about Afcon, visit the web site of the Confederation of African Football (CAF): www.cafonline.com. For further information about the City of Joburg, visit www.joburg.org.za.
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