Mpumalanga Black Aces get new home

Friday, November 19, 2010
By: 
Mandla Khoza

Mbombela - Loyal soccer fans in Mpumalanga have been rewarded with the signing of an agreement that will see their home team move into the Mbombela Stadium to play five Premier Soccer League fixtures.

Mpumalanga Black Aces, which are usually based in Emalahleni (Witbank), and the Mbombela Local Municipality formally signed the agreement at the stadium on Thursday.

Aces initially did not show much interest in making the R1.2 billion, 46 000-seater World Cup stadium its home field, but now the team will host games against Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtics and Moroka Swallows.

"We believe that the overwhelming support from Mpumalanga fans for local games that were played so far this year marketed the stadium so well that Aces had to reconsider," said Mbombela 2010 coordinator, Differ Mogale.

"Although we don't have a fixed-term contract with Aces, these five games will help them to reassess their agreement with us."

Black Aces chairperson, Mario Morfou, said the team wanted to partner with Mbombela municipality much earlier but needed to finalise financial arrangements first.

"We're happy that we've reached common ground in our talks because we believe being in the Lowveld will be beneficial to the team," said Morfou.

He revealed that the municipality would pay for the team's transport and accommodation, while making its money on ticket sales.

Morfou said if the agreement worked well, Aces management would consider playing 50 percent of the team's games in Nelspruit, and the other half at its home field, Pumas Stadium, in Emalahleni.

Card-carrying supporters based in the latter will be happy to know that they will receive free transport for the five games in Mbombela.

According to Mbombela stadium manager, Roelf Kotze, the well-attended games played in the stadium since the World Cup ended in July showed that Mpumalanga sports fans were hungry for big games.

"When Bafana Bafana played Niger in September, fans came in huge numbers and filled the stadium.

"The same thing happened with the rugby game between the Blue Bulls and Pumas in August. Last weekend's BidVest Wits game against Mamelodi Sundowns attracted 14 000 people, compared to other stadiums where PSL games only attract about 3 000 people," said Kotze.

Mogale said the municipality was also negotiating with BidVest Wits to play another three of their league games in Mbombela.

"We believe the support they got last Sunday will win them over. We had just seven days to market the game but managed to have great support at the stadium, which others in the country have failed to secure in such a short space of time," said Mogale.

"Among the things that make Mbombela Stadium special and that could make more teams interested in using it as their home field is the holiday atmosphere and beauty of the area, and the fact that Mpumalanga residents are mad about live sport," he added.

Mpumalanga Black Aces will play against:
- Kaizer Chiefs on 22 December
- Bloemfontein Celtics on 14 January
- Orlando Pirates on 6 February
- Mamelodi Sundowns on 2 March
- Moroka Swallows on 21 May