IT has become common knowledge that the R2-billion Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium needs many events – particularly sporting ones – for sustainability.
Great, but at whose expense?
With the Southern Kings assured of a spot in the southern hemisphere’s biggest inter-continental rugby competition, the Super 15, this could go a long way in helping to put to bed concerns of "The Sunflower” becoming a white elephant.
We will always go back to October 2010 – the day the stadium broke records when it was filled to capacity when the EP Kings played the Pumas for promotion to the Currie Cup A division.
More recently, what may also have assisted the venue’s sustainability were the PSL African Champions League matches played there.
These included seeing champions Orlando Pirates, top-eight finishers Bloemfontein Celtic, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, now-relegated Jomo Cosmos and of course the team now on every football follower’s lips in the Bay, Maritzburg United.
Bringing these teams to the Bay set the municipal coffers back R11.8- million. Then there is the R30-million for hosting matches during next year’s African Cup of Nations.
Now there is the possibility of the R20- million deal to bring Maritzburg to Nelson Mandela Bay.
Is this all worth it?
How many fans did these games bring to the venue, particularly those involving Maritzburg? The side, although one of the more permanent in topflight football in the country, is no crowd puller.
Will the gate takings be enough to keep the stadium afloat and make a profit after the R20-million it will cost to bring the side to PE?
Usually much of the talk when it comes to bringing high-profile teams to the metro includes job creation.
This began in the days of Bay United when they qualified for promotion to top-flight football.
Realistically, how many jobs will be created by bringing Maritzburg to the metro – the team will not be based in PE, but merely play their matches here?
How many of those jobs will be sustainable?
Another factor that needs to be considered is development. What good will bringing this side here be for the development and nurturing of the vast talent in existence in the metro?
Why could the metro not use such amounts to assist Bay United when they were still based in PE and playing top-flight football?
It seems we may see that vicious cycle continuing, as the city has a team with the potential to go far if provided with the right backing. If proper support (particularly financially) would be given to Bay Stars, they would in most likelihood be the solution not only for the stadium, but for the development of talent and the game in the region.
The municipality needs to realise and set its priorities. Waste money or invest in something that will bring returns in future!