FNB Stadium (aka Soccer City), Johannesburg

You don’t know what FNB stadium is? Then it means you completely missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup! Soccer City (as it is also called) was the stadium that hosted the first and last games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Besides being an iconic construction for the 2010 World Cup, the First National Bank Stadium (FNB) is also an icon for Johannesburg and South Africa. Looked from afar, the stadium looks like a traditional African beer pot which is why it’s also called the Calabash (quite a lot of names for one construction, right?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few interesting facts

The stadium is located in the Soweto area of the city and next to the South African Football Association headquarters (SAFA House). Why is this important? Well, here is where the 2010 FIFA World Cup offices and the Local Organizing Committee were housed.

Still, the stadium is not known just for the historical games it hosted. It is also known as the heart of South African football and a place of respect for every citizen. This was the first location where Nelson Mandela spoke to the people after he was released from prison. Even more, here is where Chris Hani’s, the freedom hero of Africa, funeral took place. The stadium also hosted the memorial services organized for Nelson Mandela on December 2013 and many world leaders stepped on its grass that day.

A few words about its magnitude

It is considered one of the largest stadiums in the Southern hemisphere, with a capacity of 94,736 (it was adjusted especially for the World Cup). However, during the event, only 84,490 seats were available to the public; the rest were reserved for officials and press.

But, to better imagine its structure, you should know that there is also an extended upper tier, and the roof is encircling the entire construction. There are also 184 hospitality suites and the parking lot can accept 15,000 cars. There are also underground parking possibilities, but those are reserved for VIPs.

The building was designed with sustainability in mind so builders used reclaimed materials that don’t require high-maintenance and all the fittings are designed to save energy. The run-off water in the summer is stored in large containers built-in the stadium and used for irrigation and other activities.

If you want to admire this architectural masterpiece, you can book a tour that will walk you through the main areas, changing rooms, VIP areas, players’ tunnel, and a mixed zone. However, beware that the tour will last between 60 and 90 minutes!