JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Four years after the World Cup, Soccer City stadium stands out against the drab skyline of south Johannesburg, a multi-coloured mosaic of steel and glass set against the yellow-dust mine dumps of a century-old city built, literally, on gold.
On many weekends, the 94,000-seater venue that hosted key games during the 2010 tournament is pumping, either with the roars of soccer fans or chant of concert-goers, an example of enduring, direct returns accrued by host nation South Africa.
The stadium, which underwent a 1.5 billion rand ($150 million) facelift for the event, comfortably pays its own way, according to its website, with fixtures ranging from Soweto soccer derbies to concerts by the likes of Lady Gaga and U2.
In December, it hosted a mass memorial for late anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, and last month was the venue for a massive rally by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to crown their election campaign.
However, Soccer City stands out in another, crucial way.
Of the nine other venues built or renovated for the World Cup to the tune of 10 billion rand – a quarter of the overall budget – all are in the red, unable to attract regular top sporting clashes or international rock stars.
The bill for their up-keep falls on cash-strapped municipalities, a salutary lesson for Brazil, where hundreds of thousands have protested, sometimes violently, against state spending on this year’s tournament, which starts