Rugby prepares to move away from Newlands Stadium
Outgoing Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) president Thelo Wakefield indicated that provincial rugby would move away from Newlands by 2020.
Wakefield‚ speaking as a guest on SuperSport’s Phaka Rugby show on Tuesday night‚ said that “heads of agreement” with the City of Cape Town had been signed.
There has been much speculation about a move from the ageing Newlands to the state-of-the-art Cape Town Stadium in Green Point and Wakefield gave the clearest indication yet that it would happen within 15 months.
The union‚ like most unions on the country and even globally‚ has suffered financially recently.
That is one of the reasons that moving to Cape Town Stadium‚ where the WPRFU would essentially be tenants to the City of Cape Town‚ has been a sticking point.
The WPRFU owns several properties‚ including Newlands‚ and Wakefield assured viewers on Phaka that none would be sold to finance a move.
But Wakefield only has two more months as president.
A new president might have a different strategic view‚ although Wakefield is understood to be targeting the position as chairman of the union’s board‚ which would allow him to wield power and influence in the future.
"It is a fact that we will move across to the Cape Town Stadium‚” Wakefield said.
“The process is such that I have signed a heads of agreement with the City Council; the City has appointed a commission to investigate the matter of rugby coming to Cape Town Stadium.
"A full council meeting will be held at the end of October‚” Wakefield said.
“At that meeting the City will say it's either yes for Western Province‚ or no. If it is yes‚ we will move to the [Cape Town] Stadium for many reasons.
"First‚ we don’t need to maintain Newlands any more‚ second it [Cape Town Stadium] is world-class‚ thirdly it is a very modern stadium‚ and modern professional rugby players demand that.
"We will develop Newlands into a business entity: we are consulting with various developers at present.
"It will still be the property of WP Rugby.
"But Stormers and Currie Cup (the WP team) will play at Cape Town Stadium. Not next year. But it could be the year after that."
"The curtain will come down on Newlands.
"Let me make it abundantly clear that no property will be sold‚ whether a house‚ or Brookside (home of the Villager Football Club)‚ or Oranjezicht‚ Newlands‚ wherever. We will never sell off our properties.
"We will develop them. These properties have been lying there‚ bringing in no money to the union.”