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Durban stadium a tourist trap

Fans going to Durban's spectacular new football stadium will get a view no other World Cup spectator has had before.
An overview of the newly built Moses Mabhida Soccer Stadium is shown in Durban, South Africa. DENIS FARRELL / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fans going to Durban's spectacular new football stadium will get a view no other World Cup spectator has had before.

A gigantic Y-shaped arch which spans the length of the Moses Mabhida Stadium has steps and a cable car ride that will take visitors 106 meters (350 feet) above the field with a panoramic view of the city and its beaches.

If they take the car ride rather than the 520 steps, fans can stand on a walkway high above the stadium and, although they can see little of the field, the view is breathtaking, if not a little scary.

Months before the World Cup arrives in Durban on June 13, the arch is being put to use as a tourist attraction and is likely to be a money maker long after the tournament finishes on July 11 as organizers aim to make up the $450 million cost of building the stadium.

It emerged in March that the city council in charge of Durban's new World Cup venue had been given 60 days to ensure that the cable car above the stadium is safe after an incident in which it became stuck, leaving its passengers stranded.

Safety inspectors visited the stadium following media reports and complaints about the stranded passengers.

The stadium sits alongside the 56,000-capacity Kings Park rugby stadium, which is the home to the Sharks rugby union team and regularly hosts national team games. It was strongly hoped that the Sharks would move next door to the new stadium but they have a 50-year lease on Kings Park and only a huge amount of money will persuade them to leave.

There have also been rumors that the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which has plenty of space for a running track, might be the venue if South Africa bids to host the first Olympics to be staged on the African continent. But that is unlikely to be before 2024 and local government officials are coy when asked about the prospects because the South African government first has to decide whether to mount an Olympic bid and where it should be.

Meanwhile, the three-tiered stadium seems certain to be one of the wonders of this year's World Cup.

Only about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) outside the city center, it is also a short walk from the ocean and organizers are building a complex and a walkway so that spectators can easily get to the complex from the beaches.

Once inside, fans will be able to see former World Cup winners Brazil and Germany, two-time runner-up Netherlands and current European champion Spain play at the 70,000-capacity stadium. The ground will also stage a second round match and a semifinal match.

Germany and Australia will play in the first match in Group D on June 13 and, three days later, Spain will face Switzerland in Group H. The Netherlands will take on Japan in Group E on June 19, and Nigeria will face South Korea in Group B three days later.

The stadium then has one of the highlights of the first round, Portugal vs. Brazil, on June 25 in Group G.