The instructions to tour groups are few, and simple.
1. Stay together.
2. No cellphones.
3. Do not step on the grass. In fact, do not even the grass.
With only days to go to handover, an understandable twitchiness plagues those building the new Cape Town stadium. Workmen bustle around, outside, inside, on top, and underneath the new mega-arena. Trucks rumble past. The soundtrack of heavy machinery has given way to the insistent clinking, scraping, and swishing of people at work finishing off, installing, plastering. There’s an air of urgency, even among our little tour group, not quite comfortable in ill-fitting hard hats and reflective vests, scrambling towards the stadium entrance. A couple of dozen police officers on an orientation exercise slide smartly by in the opposite direction.
And then, finally, you step out on to the theatre of dreams. (Well, almost. Refer to Instruction 3.)
It’s hard not to feel a sense of awe when you first edge your way out to the playing surface and lift your eyes up, and up, to those seats – good grief, can they see from there? – wedged under the roof’s sweeping curves. What a feeling it must be to share in the full-throated roar of nearly threescore and ten thousand. Damn! It’s impressive.
Cape Town Stadium, by the numbers.
Billion rand to build.
Minutes in which a capacity crowd can be evacuated, thanks partly to the multiple vomitory (yes, they really are called that) stairs that allow people to spew out quickly.
Million rand for each of the two big screens.
Metres from the furthest seat to the furthest point on the field. Apparently the eye can’t follow play at distances greater than about 200 metres.
Parking bays underneath.
Pressure in kilograms per square metre that the stadium’s plasticised mesh skin is able to withstand. High overhead, workmen walk on this stuff. Ulp.
Seats in various shades of grey, chosen for two reasons: from a distance they look pleasingly like a marine shell, and secondly replacement seats will blend in.
World Cup capacity. The 13 000 extra temporary seats will make way for money-spinning suites afterwards.