Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

The five-tier, R 2 billion (approximately $159 million) Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was built in the heart of the city overlooking the North End Lake. It is one of three coastal stadiums built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and now regularly hosts large scale soccer and rugby union marches, with the stadium also being used as a concert venue.

Inevitably, there was a great deal of speculation about the status of stadium construction in the run-up to the 2100 FIFA World Cup, with a requirement that all the host stadiums must be completed by January 2010. The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was the first of five new stadiums to start construction. The other new stadiums are situated in Cape Town, Durban, Polokwane and Nelspruit.


The stadium is sometimes incorrectly called the 'Nelson Mandela Stadium' in the media. This may lead to confusion, as there is a Nelson Mandel Stadium in Kampala, Uganda. It is also sometimes mistakenly claimed that the stadium is named after Mandela, rather than the metropolitan area named in his honour.

The stadium has an eye-catching, unique roof-structure and a spectacular view, overlooking the North End Lake. The roof is made up of a series of white 'petals' making it look like a flower. This is the reason for the stadium's nickname, The Sunflower. There are not many stadiums in the world that are designed and constructed overlooking a lake; this in itself is a very distinctive feature of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The stadium building is approximately 40m high and consists of six levels on the western side in addition to five on each of the north, south and east stands.


The main architecture was handled by Architectural Design Associates (Pty) Ltd and Dominic Bonnesse Architects cc. The stadium has three gates for entry, located on the northern, southern and eastern sides of the stadium, the western side of the stadium leads to the North End Lake. The 3 gates are: gate A-B, in Milner Avenue, gate B-C, in Prince Alfred Road, and gate C-D, in Fettes Road.


The stadium seats 45 000 in addition to 4,000 extra seats, temporarily installed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The seats are of different shades, from light orange to dark red. They are arranged seemingly at random, but this was done to help the stadium appear full at all times. It also means that sun damage is less of a problem and replaced seats are less noticeable. There are 23 private boxes with a planned additional 22 private boxes, including two bars, as part of the post World Cup building. The stadium also boasts 150 VIP suites, 60 business suites, a sports clothing shop, gymnasium, plus lecture and function rooms. There are also two conference rooms, which are able to accommodate 200 people, which are situated on the 5th level.

There are four ramps for easy wheelchair access, three VIP/VVIP lifts, two in the West Stand and one in the East Stand, as well as six passengers' lifts all around the stadium. Two additional lifts will be installed for the legacy phase. The stadium will have a total of 11 lifts. There are 32 turnstiles and colour coded gates on level 2 for spectators to access their seats and four ramps leading up from level 2 to level 5.

Two big viewing screens (12.7m x 7.2m) were installed for live coverage of the activities on the field. There are a total of 74 toilet blocks (male and female) – 36 blocks on level 2 – 4 blocks on level 3 – 14 blocks on level 4 and 20 blocks on level 5.

Parking inside the stadium is provided only on level 1 and consists of media parking – 160 bays, broadcast – 80 bays, VVIP parking – 70 bays, special VVIP parking – 12 bays, VIP parking – 32 Bays, disabled parking – 4 bays and general parking on site – 1,280 bays.


The playing surface is made of natural grass that was grown off site, in the St Albans area. The areas surrounding the pitch are made of artificial turf. The field was designed to be able to accommodate both football and rugby. The pitch is maintained by a group of 5 people, who work day and night to ensure the quality of the playing surface. The field is currently watered at 2 am due to a severe drought and heat wave in the area. A 'pitch grow' lighting system is used to ensure that all grass on the pitch grows properly. A unit with 61,000 watt bulbs is used to help certain parts of the pitch covered by shadow due to the stadium roof.

The stadium's construction was handled by a consortium made up of Grinaker, LTA, Interberton and Ibhayi JV. It was built on the site of the old Parks Rugby Club, and the Prince Alfred Park.

The roof material of the stadium consists of a combination of aluminum cladding, combined with a membrane material called polytetraflurethylene, which is a coated glass-fiber fabric and steel super structure. This structure was supplied and installed by Australian company.

An estimated total of 6,800 jobs were created throughout the process and the development of the stadium will result in the upliftment and urban renewal of the surrounding residential and commercial area of North End and the major routes leading to the stadium.

Original estimates put the cost of the stadium at R 895 million, of which the city of Port Elizabeth would have been expected to pay R 95 million. This was part of an informal agreement on World Cup stadium funding, whereby local municipalities would cover 10% of costs, provincial government 20% and national treasury would cover the other 70%.

As with other World Cup stadium in South Africa, construction costs for the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium spiraled substantially. It increased from the June 2006 estimated cost of R 711 million, to R 1.5 billion in May 2008, and finally the completed cost of R 2.065 billion. The stadium eventually cost R 2.1 billion to build, of which the city has already paid R 336 million, and may still be liable to pay a shortfall of R 261 million. However, if the shortfalls are calculated based on the 10-20-70 split, then the national government still owes the city R 70.5 million and provincial government R 191 million. National treasury has so far contributed R 1.375 billion, or 66.5% of the stadium’s cost. Despite this, national treasury has stated that they will not issue more funds to World Cup stadiums.

It appears as though Port Elizabeth residents may make up the short fall through larger rates increases. There will be an extra 2% increase in property rates, an extra 1% increase in water tariffs and sanitation and refuse rates, as well as an extra 4% increase in electricity tariffs.

The stadium's running costs are estimated to be R18 million per year. The stadiums operating company, Access Facilities and Leisure Management, expect to break even by 2012.

The stadium hosted 8 games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament. It hosted 5 group games, as well as a round of 16 games, a quarterfinal with the 3rd/4th playoff being played at the stadium.

The stadium's games were:



Team #1


Team #2





Cote d'Ivoire



Group G







Group D







Group H







Group C






Korea Republic

Round of 16







Quarter Finals







3rd/4th Place Play-off


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