Loftus Versfeld Stadium

The Loftus Versfeld Stadium was created especially for rugby and soccer matches. It is located in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa and it is known for its whopping seating capacity of 51,762. This stadium is currently owned by the Blue Bulls Rugby Union as has been the home grounds for the team since its opening in 1923.

Famously, this is the stadium which hosted the 2009 Super 14 Final where the Blue Bulls won a highly anticipated match with a full crowd against the Waikato Chiefs. Along with the Currie Cup Final in which the esteemed team won against the Free State Cheetahs, this is the stadium that hosted the opening games for the 2010 FFA World Cup.

History

While the stadium’s name is interesting – it was actually named after Robert Loftus Owen Versfeld. He was the founder beginning organised sports in Pretoria – which created a legacy that is still seen today. Originally when the stadium was created in 1923, it only had the ability to hold just around 2,000 seats. Although, as time went on and more games and events were hosted there, changes were made to the stadium.

Ten years after its opening, the stadium officially gained its current name to honour the late Loftus Versfeld. After the name change, the stadium has been no stranger to new developments and stylish modifications to keep it modernised. The most noticeable time for the development changes was in the 1970’s once the stadium went through several different expansions. Once the 1980’s arrived – the stadium had already begun to resemble its current look and size.

Once the stadium was selected to host the opening games for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it went through another refurbishment which increased the seating capacity along with cleaning and renewing field.

Events Hosted

Other than hosting an array of soccer and rugby games – the Loftus Versfeld Stadium has been a host to other events as well, mainly concerts and boxing matches. When Celine Dion performed during her 2008 Taking Chances Tour the stadium had an impressive attendee rate of over 80,000. Other acts, such as a concert held by UB40 along with Robbie Williams Tour in 2006 – the stadium was filled with nearly 56,000 music fans.

One of the most icon events held in the stadium was the boxing match between the American heavyweight champion John Tate and the South African heavyweight Gerrie Coetzee. Over 80,000 attendees filed the stands – most rooting for the local boxer Coetzee. Despite the massive amount of support from the crowds and performing in his home country, he still lost.

Currently, there are no events that will be held at the stadium during the rest of the current year.

Coca-Cola Park

Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.is what Ellis Park Stadium, also known as Emirates Airline Park, was called from 2008-2012. After the five-year sponsorship deal ran out with Coca-Cola, the name was pulled by the stadium, which has held many rugby matches, soccer matches, and rugby. The park is also known for the biggest stadium disaster in South Africa when in 2001 43 people died in a stampede.

The Transvaal Rugby Football Union, which is now the Golden Lions Rugby Club, used the Wanderers Club’s stadium, but with issues of other clubs, they looked for their own grounds. The rental agreement was signed in 1927 with 13 acres of land for the new grounds, and Ellis Park Stadium was opened in 1928 with the first test being the Transvaal Rugby Football Union against the All Blacks. In 1979 the old stadium was demolished, and a new one was built. Ellis Park made history in 2005 as the first black-owned stadium in South Africa. In 1955 the biggest match took place at the stadium where 100,000 spectators witnessed a match between the Transvaal Rugby Football Union and British and Irish Lions.

The 2001 Disaster

In 2001 in a soccer match between the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates where 43 people were crushed to death in a stampede. There were reports that 120,000 people were in the stadium, which was well over capacity. When the Orlando Pirates tied the match, more people tried to find seats and see the action, which only made the stampede get bigger. The untrained security guards fired tear gas into the crowds, but that only made the situation worse. After the disaster, it came out the security guards were bribed to let people into the stadium even though they did not have tickets.

There was another incident at Ellis Park Stadium in 2007 when high winds blew some of the signs on the pitch of a soccer match. Three players were hit as was a linesman and after play resumed the match was called soon after because of the terrible weather.

Big Sporting Events


Ellis Park, formerly Coca-Cola Stadium, has been the place where many international sporting events have taken place. The 1995 Rugby World Cup was hosted by South Africa, and 65,000 fans saw South Africa beat New Zealand 15-12 in extra time in the final. Ellis Park was also one of the group venues for both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. Nearly $40 million in renovations was done to the stadium before the World Cup. One of the quarterfinal matches was held there with eventual champion Spain defeating Paraguay 1-0.

Concerts

Ellis Park has also seen some of the biggest names in the music business hold concerts there. Whitney Houston (1994), the Rolling Stones (1995), and Eminem (2014) have also played there. Houston played there in The Bodyguard World Tour with that concert being recorded and sold on video as Whitney: The Concert for a New South Africa.