Cape Town - The new Cape Town Stadium has been opened on time - 32 months after the first sod was turned.
Following the tune of the "Final Countdown", Mayor Dan Plato on Monday addressed a special ceremony attended by more than 200 invited guests and media, before hundreds of balloons of the colours of the South African flag were released.
He praised the contractors and construction workers that worked on the stadium, as well as the head of the 2010 Local Organising Committee Danny Jordaan and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, while thanking the national and provincial governments for their financial support.
Plato said the stadium, one of the biggest construction and planning projects ever undertaken by the City of Cape Town, was set to become an iconic image of the city with its back drop of Table Mountain and Robben Island.
Despite a late start the stadium was completed on time after the original date of completion was moved forward from 15 February to December 14.
Mike Marsden, Executive Director for Service Delivery Integration and responsible for 2010 at the City of Cape Town said it wasn't easy going, with the stadium's fa±ade almost being lost when the ship carrying it went aground recently on a sand bank near Thailand.
Marsden said the remainder of the stadium precinct and local roads serving it would be completed by March, with a promenade and athletics track completed after the World Cup.
At a total cost of R4.5 billion the stadium can seat 68 000 people with the furthest point from the pitch just 187m away.
The stadium itself has 750 rooms and 3 000 doors, according to Mike Wylie, chairman of Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), who together with Murray and Roberts were the stadiums main contractors.
The concept design was undertaken by GMP Architekten from Germany, while detailed design work was completed by Louis Karol and Associates and Point Architects.
About 2 500 construction workers were employed in the building of the stadium and 1 200 artisans received training from the contractors.
After the World Cup, the stadium will be operated by Stade de France and the South African sports marketing company, Sail.
Plato said the stadium was "ready for the world" and to host its first World Cup match - between France and Uruguay on 11 June.
"In this very arena the best of the world will do battle."