Cape Town's World Cup stadium is fans' dream
With the beaches and waterfront restaurants just a short walk away and the enormous Table Mountain providing a spectacular background, the World Cup stadium in Cape Town is a football fan's dream.
The 70,000-capacity Green Point Stadium, a multipurpose arena which replaced a far smaller stadium on the same site, will stage eight matches at the June 11-July 11 championship, including one of the semifinal matches.
Fans from France, Italy, England and the Netherlands will be among those headed for the southwestern port city on the Atlantic coast and the stadium, which is within easy reach of tourist attractions and most of the city's hotels.
With the stadium being built partly on a golf course, the project was initially hit by labor strikes and opposition from environmentalists who argued that it would spoil the city landscape. But it was finished within 32 months at a cost of $600 million and the result has generally been welcomed, even though streets around the stadium could get clogged up by traffic on match days.
Oval shaped with a smoothly undulating roof, the light-colored stadium has a translucent appearance which means it changes into a reddish glow around sunset and resembles a rose-colored bowl.
Using cladding on the outside, it has been built to restrict the amount of noise emitted from within to ease some of the complaints from the environmentalists. Thick panels of glass protect those inside from wind and rain in a city known to experience all four seasons in one day, especially in winter when the World Cup will be staged.
The stadium will be used on the opening day - June 11 - when Uruguay faces France in Group A. The opening match of the tournament, however, will be between host South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg on the same day.
Three days later, World Cup holder Italy will meet Paraguay in Group F, and England will face Algeria in Group C on June 18. Portugal will face North Korea in Group G on June 21 and Cameroon will meet the Netherlands in Group E three days later.
The stadium then hosts a second round game, possibly between Spain and Portugal, and also a quarterfinal game and a semifinal match on July 6.
Once the World Cup is over, the top layer of the stadium will be removed to reduce the capacity to 55,000. A private consortium is set to lease the stadium from the city for at least 10 years and, although the cricket and rugby stadiums at Newlands are still being used, it hopes to use Green Point for sports and open air concerts.