The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is throwing its weight behind another major sporting event by preparing the city’s iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to be a possible host of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
This emerged at City Hall yesterday where it was also revealed that the proposed name of the T20 Global League Series cricket team to be based in Port Elizabeth would be the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars.
A successful 2023 Rugby World Cup bid will see the municipality attend to “major maintenance” required for the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to meet World Cup standards, according to the metro’s executive director for sport, recreation, arts and culture, Noxolo Nqwazi.
Nqwazi was speaking at a sport, recreation, arts and culture committee meeting in council chambers yesterday where, among other points, the 2023 bid was mentioned and the name of the city’s T20 Global League Series team revealed in the agenda.
The T20 series launched last month will run between November 4 and December 16, with the Bay identified as one of the eight host cities.
The owner of the PE-based team and chairman of Channel 2 Group Corporation, Ajay Sethi, will be in the Bay in two weeks’ time to either approve or decline the proposed name, and thereafter officially launch the team’s name.
The T20 team will be hosted at St George’s Park over a 10-year period.
A maximum of six players, either international or Proteas players, will represent Port Elizabeth in the city-based franchise for the T20 Global League.
“The R39-million upgrade to St George’s [Park] is to ensure it meets international standards. At the moment, there are a number of role-players within the stadium and it creates confusion. But we are working on resolving this issue,” Nqwazi said.
“With regard to the Rugby World Cup, a technical team are already in the process of identifying what needs to be done or reviewed in order for the stadium and city to comply with the criteria of hosting this event.”
Three countries – namely South Africa, Ireland and France – are bidding to host the prestigious world rugby event with the projected economic impact for the country hosting the tournament estimated to be at least R27-billion, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The tournament will see 48 matches being played by 20 international teams in eight stadiums over a period of six weeks from September 8 2023. The final vote for the tournament host decision is taking place in November.
In yesterday’s agenda under the heading “Progress in NMB Municipality”, it states: “The city manager has given the written commitment with regard to the availability of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium venue for the tournament in support of the bid to ensure that the city is considered as a potential host city.”
The responsibility to ensure that the stadium is of a particular standard falls on the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), agency spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said.
“The tournament does not dictate maintenance; maintenance is a routine and ongoing process that delivers a facility to a required specification.
“However, the projects that may need to be executed in order to accommodate the tournament include event-specific required infrastructure,” Bangazi said.
He said the event-specific requirements would be dictated by the 2023 Rugby World Cup governing body.
“We are unable to give an estimated cost as we do not have the scope or specification for the tournaments. These will be forwarded by the rugby board.”