Port Elizabeth - Construction at the Nelson Mandela 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium reached a significant milestone on Wednesday when the last of 36 roof truss girders was fitted, signalling that the stadium was nearing completion.
With 15 months left before the kick-off, the R1.7 billion stadium is far ahead of the other four newly built stadiums for the World Cup and will be the first to be completed, ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.
"When South Africa made a promise to host the biggest event in the world in 2004, we were sure to deliver on that promise. The delivery of the Nelson Mandela bay multipurpose stadium in May will be a big step in that process," the Metropolitan Municipality said in a statement.
The stadium will seat 44 000 in addition to 4 000 extra seats which will be temporarily installed for the World Cup.
This capacity will ensure that the stadium is able to host eight World Cup games, including a third and fourth place playoff and a quarter final.
The municipality said the handing over of the stadium will be held at the end of April, thereafter several games events are lined up to test the waters when the stadium gets operational in May.
Among other things, the first trial game is planned for that month, while the first full capacity match will be staged on 16 June, when the British and Irish Lions will play an Eastern Cape Coastal team.
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.
Two big viewing screens will be installed for the live viewing of events as well as two conference rooms, which are able to accommodate 200 people will be situated on the 5th level, said the municipality.
There are four ramps for easy wheelchair access, 74 toilet blocks as well as 32 colour coded turnstile gates.
In addition, there are 23 private boxes with a planned additional 22 private boxes, including two bars, as part of the post World Cup building.
According to the municipality all aspects of the project have factored in energy efficiency as a key element.
These it said include energy-saving designs, the building management system, and temperature control and reduced energy consumption rates.
"The bulk sewer and bulk water line, to service the stadium development has also been completed. The playing field is natural grass with the outer and surrounding areas consisting of artificial turf."
With most of the hard work involved in building the stadium now nearly done, members of the council took on local team Bay United in an exhibition kick-about match to commemorate the placement of the last girder - laying claim to being the first players to run out on a World Cup stadium pitch.
For the municipality the extremely good progress on the stadium allows the city to now shift its focus away from capital projects such as stadium construction and to now concentrate on building up excitement for the 2010 FIFA World Cup among the city residents.
The city will soon embark on an aggressive marketing campaign and will today officially launch the Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth 2010 FIFA World Cup poster.
"We can now re-focus our attention and energy on other areas, such as the beautification of our streets, accommodation, tourism and marketing," said the municipality.