Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
17 Jul 2015
5:03 pm

Durban Games bid back on track – Alexander

Wesley Botton

While they have been enticed to make some changes to their original plans, Commonwealth Games bid committee chairman Mark Alexander says Durban is still on track to host the 2022 showpiece within the R5.9 billion budget.

Moses Mabhida Stadium Durban. | Picture: KZN Tourism

After a visit by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) evaluation commission in April, the first of three visits by CGF members was held this week, ahead of the vote for the Games host in Auckland in September.

“That first visit (by the evaluation commission) was very good. They gave us a lot of advice on how to do things slightly differently,” Alexander said on Friday.

“The suggestions they made have helped us from a budget perspective, and also helped ensure we’re in a position to host the best possible Games.

“All the feedback has been very positive.”

The changes to the bid included the decision to move the sevens rugby competition from Kings Park stadium to Moses Mabhida.

While the opening ceremony would be held at the iconic Moses Mabhida venue, one of the stadia used for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the change in rugby venues would assist in reducing costs by holding the closing ceremony at Kings Park, home of the Sharks rugby team.

“This means we have more time to prepare for the closing ceremony without having to break things down and rebuild,” Alexander said.

Aside from laying a new athletics track around Moses Mabhida, which had been part of the legacy plans from the World Cup, a new track would also need to be laid at the Kings Park athletics stadium next door.

“According to CGF stipulations, the two tracks must be identical and of the same quality. The total cost of this will be R40 million,” said bid committee architect Ruben Reddy.

Additionally, two new artificial hockey pitches would be built, while eight sports codes would be held within the International Convention Centre.

After discussions with Kings Park management and local authorities, the provisional plan to host the swimming competition at the Rachel Finlayson pool on the beach had not changed, with a temporary 7 800-seater grandstand to be erected around the facility.

The core codes for the Games would be voted on by CGF members in September, and with the host city able to select the remaining codes, the bid committee was confident T20 cricket could be introduced to the programme.

“If it is included we’ll need to jig our plans to fit it in, but we would love to have cricket at the Games,” Alexander said.

If it was included, the cricket competition would likely be played at Kingsmead stadium, down the road from Moses Mabhida, keeping within the bid committee’s plans to hold the majority of the codes within walking distance.

While the bid must stand up to a vote, Durban is almost guaranteed to be named the host city for the 2022 spectacle after Edmonton, the only other potential host, withdrew earlier this year for financial reasons.