Urban Fold

Empty Stadia and Some Regret in South Africa

One year after it hosted the World Cup, South Africa is looking at empty and expensive stadia and a persistent debt that's causing some to regret hosting the soccer tournament.

"In a recent poll, 70 percent of South Africans said they now believe the World Cup actually brought the country economic disadvantages. The 10 host stadiums are particular sources of dispute. When they were being built or refurbished, rock concerts and glammed-up local soccer games were cited as the potential return on the government's $1.6 billion investment, but the concerts have been few, and some of the host cities don't even have soccer teams.

So the stadiums mostly stand empty, already monuments. At Soccer City (since rechristened First National Bank Stadium), the honking of vuvuzelas has been succeeded by the twittering of birds. Several species roost in the rafters, and when there are no tours to lead, Nong gets to know them. 'There are the tall ones with dark legs,' he told me. 'And the ones nearly like flamingos.' He imitated their different noises: Glug-glug. Cluck-cluck."

But South Africans also report feeling a greater sense of social cohesion since the event.

Full Story: Overtime in Soccer City

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