PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium could become a “white elephant” when the World Cup ends after Port Elizabeth’s bankrupt soccer club was sold to investors from outside the city.
Current team owner Sipho Pityana said Monday the new buyers could move the team.
Bay United Football Club general manager Lungsi Mooi told The Associated Press that about 30 players and 10 staff could lose their jobs if the Premier Soccer League first division team moves outside the area.
“I have no doubt that without a full-time professional team in the province, the stadium will become a white elephant,” Mooi said.
The 42,486-seat stadium was built especially for the World Cup and cost $159 million.
Officially opened in late February, the stadium also has hosted two international rugby matches. The stadium is not configured for cricket, so only soccer, rugby and potentially concerts remain as options to keep the venue viable.
Pityana said the team will release a statement later this week with the identity of the new owners.
“All I can say now is that it has not been bought by a Nelson Mandela Bay-based businessman and I cannot say that it will stay in the city or not,” Pityana said.
Mooi said there was not much prospect of the stadium staying financially viable if there was no permanent tenant. She said there is a local rugby team, but “it is not professional and plays at a lower level.”
The stadium has hosted six World Cup matches and two more will be played there: Friday’s quarterfinal and the playoff for third place on July 10.
Port Elizabeth has had some of the smallest crowds of any host city. FIFA announced an attendance of 30,597 for Uruguay’s 2-1 second-round victory over South Korea last Saturday, meaning almost 12,000 seats were empty.
Its biggest crowd was 38,294 for Germany’s 1-0 loss against Serbia. A total of 31,513 attended South Korea when it beat Greece 2-0 in a Saturday lunchtime kickoff on the second day of the tournament.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.