|Country||Republic of South Africa|
|Cost||ZAR 280 million|
|Address||Mooki St., Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa|
Orlando Stadium – stadium description
The stadium in eastern Soweto is sometimes considered the Mecca of South African football. Not that you would know just by looking at its initial shape from 1959. This modest field with running track and poorly-built stands for up to 24,000 people was hardly among the country’s best.
That said, its history tells a lot as to why it’s so important. Primarily, it’s the home of Orlando Pirates, one of Africa’s most recognized teams internationally. It also hosted numerous great concerts and political gatherings over the years. In 1976 Orlando Stadium was the destination of peaceful protest march that was brutally stopped by the police. At least 176 people were killed, starting th e Soweto Uprising.
The old ground with its rich history was demolished in 2005 to make way for a brand new one. The field was slightly relocated to better fit the north-south axis, while new concrete stands were built on a hill. As a result the west side has two more floors, while ground level in the east starts from the 3rd level.
Capacity of the stadium is officially stated to be 40,000. This number includes a full ring of 120 skyboxes and three larger suites. Fans enter the stands partly through four triangular ramps in each corner.
The stadium’s size was achieved at a relatively low price of 280 million rand (app. $28.5m / €22m in 2008). But despite meeting the capacity minimum, it wasn’t included in South Africa’s 2010 World Cup. One of the reason was the proximity to FNB Stadium (just 5km east).
The ground did get a piece of the tournament though as it hosted the pre-opening concert and was used as a training center. Also, due to Loftus Versfeld being taken over by FIFA in 2010, Orlando Stadium played the key role in 2010 Super Rugby games, including the final.