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Friday Jan 31, 2014

Cape Stadium wants WPRU as anchor tenant

Talks are taking place 'behind the scenes' to secure a deal with the Western Province Rugby Union ( WPRU) as the city's ideal anchor tenant for the Cape Town Stadium.

It will also be at least two years before the stadium's management model is changed and possibly operates as a commercial venue.

On Wednesday, the council approved a recommendation to establish the stadium as a municipal entity. This operating model was chosen after a business analysis looked at seven different management models.

Running the stadium as a municipal entity will mean the city will retain ownership but will form a public/private partnership, with an anchor tenant running operations. The city wants the rugby union to become the anchor tenant, which will see rugby move to the Cape Town Stadium from its current home at Newlands.

The parties have been in talks for more than two years but have yet to strike a deal.

WPRU said previously that a move to the stadium was an 'unknown factor' as it did not know the cost of running the venue.

Mayoral committee member for events and tourism Grant Pascoe told the Cape Times city officials and the union were in talks 'behind the scenes' to strike a deal. The city and the rugby union will also meet at a three-day workshop between February 11 and 13 where various financial models will be discussed.

The decision to run the stadium as a municipal entity was chosen as it was the most financially viable for the struggling R4.5 billion venue.

The move was welcomed by opposition councillors who said the city had to ensure that they made the right move.

United Democratic Front councillor Malcolm Taylor said: 'The city should've taken this action a long time ago because we have spent so much time and money on getting to a simple solution. We are happy to see some action and at the end of the day the city has to keep a hold on matters because this is a massive venue that has cost the people of the city a lot.'

ANC councillor Rhoda Bazier said: 'We agreed with the recommendation and we spoke to some unions who agreed that running the stadium in a public/private partnership is the best option. The challenges of the stadium have been huge because of the budget, but we are happy that the city is going through this process properly.'

The city has to apply to the provincial government to overturn the current record of decision which bans commercial activity to allow such activity in order for the venue to turn a profit.

Pascoe said it would take at least two years before the entire process is completed and the venue becomes a commercial space.

It will take 18 months to establish a company as a municipal entity.

At the same time, the city will also apply for new environmental authorisation for the stadium in terms of the National Environmental Management Act and apply for new zoning provision in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance in order to allow for commercial activity on non-event days.

Cape Times


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