SportSport

Commentary Box: The complex situation at Olën Park

Olën Park has for decades hosted some of the top class local and international rugby teams with legends gracing its fields in the heart of Potchefstroom. Now years of highlights will only remain in the history books after the Leopards Rugby Union decided to switch Olën Park as a home base for the NWU’s Fanie …

Olën Park has for decades hosted some of the top class local and international rugby teams with legends gracing its fields in the heart of Potchefstroom.
Now years of highlights will only remain in the history books after the Leopards Rugby Union decided to switch Olën Park as a home base for the NWU’s Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds.
New history for the Leopards in partnership with the NWU will be written at a new venue this year and for the foreseeable future, unless the Leopards and the JB Marks local municipality (who own the stadium) can come to a new agreement.
The municipality made a clear statement this past week with regards to Potchefstroom Herald’s inquiry about Olën Park. The long term goal is for the stadium to be transformed into a multi-purpose sporting venue that will host a variety of sport, such as football, athletics and rugby.
This is a great idea in principal but the question should be asked on how the municipality aims to promote Olënpark as a viable venue.
In my opinion a number of upgrades must first be achieved before Olënpark can be deemed as a premier sporting facility.
One of the reasons, the Leopards decided to leave Olënpark is due to safety concerns. The eastern pavilion needs structural upgrades and without a safety certificate it would be foolish to host any sporting event. Upgrades need to be made to the stadium and someone will need to pay for these upgrades, which will cost a pretty penny.

lën Park was previously used as a PSL venue for Jomo Cosmos and with the necessary upgrades could be a future venue for footb
lën Park was previously used as a PSL venue for Jomo Cosmos and with the necessary upgrades could be a future venue for footb
The Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds will now be the new home of Leopards Rugby this season. Photos: Wouter Pienaar
The Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds will now be the new home of Leopards Rugby this season. Photos: Wouter Pienaar

The spanner in the works to these necessary upgrades is the current financial situation that the municipality faces.
The J.B. Marks mayor, Kgotso Khumalo, stated in a council meeting last month that the financial situation “Is not a rumour, it’s a fact, and things are really bad. We spend a lot more than we get in.’
Olënpark is in need of an upgrade, especially to the pavilions as well as the parking area, which are currently filled with potholes.
Repainting will also need to be done and general facilities at the stadiums such as lavatories and general upkeep should also be improved before Olënpark can shine again as one of SA’s best stadiums.
Olënpark has hosted PSL teams when Jomo Cosmos used the facility to host matches and crowds definitely came in drones to support. This was especially the case when well supported teams, such as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates came to town.
It is unfortunate that Jomo Cosmos had to leave Olënpark in early 2017 for Tsakane Stadium in Brakpan and now with the Leopards leaving, the million rand question remains what the next step for Olënpark is.
Will it be transformed in a multi-sport stadium or will it turn into an abandoned field?
I hope in all earnest for the former to occur in the sporting mad town of Potchefstroom.

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