| CAPE TOWN

Anger over 10,000-seater stadium for Observatory

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“We want development that supports the area,” says resident

Photo of a field
Cape Town City Football Club is currently using the Hartleyvale A field next to the hockey stadium in Observatory as its training ground. The club intends to build a 10,000-seater stadium here. Photo: Aidan Jones
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Dozens of residents gathered at the Observatory Community Centre on Tuesday night to raise their concerns over plans by Cape Town City Football Club (CTC) to build a 10,000-seater stadium in the area.

“As a community we feel we have somehow been skipped,” said Tauriq Jenkins, chairperson of the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), which convened the meeting. He said that although the community is not against development, it wanted a say in what kind of developments are made.

Residents raised concerns about increased traffic congestion, the environmental impact, access to the park, and light and noise pollution in a residential area.

Three months ago the City of Cape Town granted CTC a lease for Hartleyvale Stadium grounds, at a rate of R8,500 per month, for two years and 11 months.

“The rental is less than the City is charging the OCA to run the parking lot behind the Spar [on the corner of Nuttall and Station Roads],” said Leslie London, an Observatory resident and the OCA committee member responsible for large developments.

The Hartleyvale grounds being leased to CTC fall within the Two Rivers Urban Park. The park includes ecologically sensitive areas, historical buildings and cultural landscapes.

“We don’t want to object to development, but what we want is appropriate development where it’s possible … and a 10,000-seater stadium in the middle of the park just does not work,” said Marc Turok, an Observatory resident involved in architecture and heritage, who is also vice-chair of the Two Rivers Urban Park Association (TRUPA).

Turok said development of the area was necessary but not a 10,000-seater stadium. “Heritage Western Cape has put a two-year protection on the park” as part of ongoing development plans with TRUPA, said Turok.

Dale Forbes, OCA head of arts, sports and culture, said he had met CTC owner John Comitis about the club’s intentions. Forbes said CTC would invest R200 million in the development and aimed to open the stadium by mid-2020. He said CTC was looking for anchor tenants, including a commercial chain, fast food outlet and coffee shops to operate “underneath the stadium” and “generate ongoing revenue”.

GroundUp asked CTC about the development plans and whether concerns raised at Tuesday night’s meeting had been taken into account, but CTC declined to comment.

“The football is in the foreground but the reality is that this is just business development,” said Observatory resident Katrin Bohlender.

Councillor Stuart Diamond, Mayco Member for Assets and Facilities Management, told GroundUp that although CTC had expressed an intention to build a 10,000-seater stadium at Hartleyvale, “no formal plans or application have been submitted [to the City]”.

“The City advertised [the lease] by placing adverts in the newspapers,” said Diamond. “Notices were sent to the immediate adjacent owners, ward councillor, sub-council chairperson and manager, as well as the relevant rate payer association. Comments and objections were considered before any lease rights were granted.”

A resident, who said his name was Howard, asked why the ward councillor, Patrick Chapple, was not present. “Where is he [Chapple] when we are surrounded on all sides by developers?” he asked.

Chapple informed GroundUp that he did not attend the meeting because of a potential conflict of interest.

Jenkins said the next step for the civic association would be to develop a community response and enter into discussions with the City. A feedback meeting is to be held on 24 April.

In the yellow circle is Field A where the stadium would be built. Map image from Google Maps.

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TOPICS:  City Sport
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Letters

Dear Editor

Government is always telling business to invest in the poor areas , so why don't Cape Town City FC build their stadium on the Cape Flats so as to help uplift those poor areas? Give the youth something they can be proud of: modern soccer stadium which attracts the top teams and best players in the country. Give them quality role models to uplift them instead of having gangsters as their "role models". Society needs to be transformed and government has a duty to assist in this regard.

Dear Editor

To Stephen van der Spuy, the Cape Flats does have newish stadia - Turfhall, a new softball complex built on an existing neglected sports field for Cape Town's 2006 Olympic bid, which is the home of softball in the city. A refurbished Athlone Stadium costing almost R300 million and Philippi Stadium (R90 million) were developed as practice venues for the 2010 Football World Cup but were never used.

Google "Cape Town Sports Facilities" for the locations of some facilities. There are Vygiekraal Stadium, Rylands (12 000 seats), Langa Sports Comlex, Site B and Mandela Park Sports Ground in Khayelitsha and Chukker Road to name a few. Chukker Road doesn't have a stadium but doesn't need one being mainly a cricket ground.

Stadia, even small ones, are very expensive to build and operate and the city never recoups their running costs from sporting codes and gate fees. Often spectators are not charged entry fees. As such, sports facilities are public goods like libraries, community halls and clinics. But the disastrously expensive and mismanaged Cape Town Stadium is the one exception I'd like to see either mothballed or demolished.

A couple of years ago, a private land surveyor working on a city contract told me the Flats has more recreational parks and sports facilities than the northern suburbs. I have no reason to doubt him. So, your concern about the lack of facilities and stadia is baseless. If you lived in Cape Town you should be aware of these. Alternatively, you're not very well informed.

Dear Editor

To Thomas Johnson: Cape Town is rapidly becoming a high density area. Green Point Stadium will become a popular venue within a few years. Don't you think it would be better for Cape Town City Sports Club to use the existing Green Point Stadium instead of building a new stadium in the residential area of Observatory which will eventually accommodate 25 000 spectators? If not, why not?

Dear Editor

Stephen, you’re asking a different question to the one I originally replied to. You incorrectly claim the Cape Flats lacks stadia. A full reply to your question about Cape Town Stadium vs a new one in Observatory stretches the 350-word limit (Groundup knows my feelings on that!).

First, I dispute your assertion “Green Point (sic) Stadium will become a popular venue within a few years” - see my articles http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/a-world-cup-white-elephant, http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/the-cape-town-stadium-a-turkey-that-will-never-fly and http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/cape-town-stadium-the-das-very-own-saa. It’s been underused since it was built except the short duration of the World Cup. It is a scandalous money pit, by my estimation, costing about R150 million a year to operate and maintain, not R40 million the city claims.

It’s a very expensive facility, and Ajax, whose home ground it was, left because of that. Western Province Rugby Union also declined to use it reportedly for the same reason, although a recent report says they will move to it.

For the reasons I gave, spending public funds on another new stadium after the billions already spent on building, operating and maintaining other is irresponsible and wasteful. We’ve just seen a large increase of municipal charges and rates to pay for the city’s mismanagement of the water crisis. We don’t need or want this cost now and over the future. That council is even contemplating it shows how clueless they are about the city’s priorities and proves my point about their mismanagement of city assets, but try telling them that. Besides, the city has an adequate number of stadia.

I don’t know why Cape Town City Football Club wants a new stadium when Athlone or Philippi is perfectly good, and probably underused too. It sounds like ego but on someone else’s – the ratepayer’s – dime. If they want it, let them build it at own cost. I don’t know if the site is suitable for another stadium. Environmental and traffic impact studies must be performed.

Dear Editor

To John Comitis: Why don't you use Athlone or Philippi Stadiums? or build one elsewhere. Please ensure it's not nearby vulnerable residential areas. In Observatory, the proposed stadium is immediately next to the residential area, and I assure you that there will be endless complaints from many residents about noise.

Even if the vuvuzela is banned inside the stadium, they'll walk the streets blowing it before and after the game when residents want to sleep. There'll also be spectators screaming and shouting in the streets long after the game is over. The noise will drive residents crazy.

I know how much you love soccer, but , with respect, I also know you're making a very wrong move building a soccer stadium in Observatory. It's a completely different scenario today than it was fifty years ago.

Dear Editor

The stadium in Green Point, which was vehemently opposed by community groups and ratepayer organisations, was built only because the South African govt bribed FIFA with our money, and FIFA told them to build it there.

It is an absolute disaster which makes it unliveable for residents, noise, crowds, mess, and the City's events department and organisers are in an "ïnteresting" money-making relationship with organisers. There is ZERO benefit for the surrounding area, and the City pleads poverty when they fail to provide traffic control, law enforcement, cleanup, or noise protection for residents while simultaneously using ratepayers money to keep it running due to a loss of around R4 million rand a month. In addition the events department allows all kinds of other events on the surrounding fields and parks which have ZERO noise containment.

Soccer fans have to travel long distances to get there. There is no parking for them. The city trafffic department provides no signage nor control of ANY kind in Green Point village and surrounds, and yet walks around afterwards giving poor people R500 fines because there is nowhere else to park. There is frequent friction between residents and audiences, and residents are routinely threatened and there is broken glass, urine and worse everywhere, and there are often events every weekend.

No support from City at all , just greed from organiser money. The events take place with severe circumstances of noise levels that are tantamount to child abuse because they cause permanent hearing loss and children cannot leave on their own.

It is scandalous abuse on every level and promises from the city to mitigate these issues have all been lies. There is a campaign on from the Concerned residents action group to legally shut down all the events totally:
https://candystick.co.za/c/concerned-residents-action-group-noise-disruption-outreach/

This is what you can expect in your area and much worse, because City management is deteriorating all the time. Gather as many residents as you can to protest.