Stadium state of mind

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Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg

After months of anticpation at Esquire HQ the World Cup is almost upon us. Here’s a look at the top-five stadia in this year's tournament.

Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Capacity: 91,141
Games: The first and final matches of the tournament.

More like a futuristic art museum than a sporting venue, this is the largest Stadium in Africa. The unique design is based around a traditional African pot known as a Calabash and is a representation of African design and culture. Created to give everyone the best seat in the house, no spectator will be more than 100 metres from pitch - a fact that makes it almost possible to ignore the use of the word ‘soccer’ in the stadium’s title.

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Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Capacity: 70,000
Games: One of the semi final matches as well as several games from the group stage, including Portugal’s clash with Brazil on June 25.

An architectural representation of the South African flag, the arch symbolises the unity of a formerly divided nation. This multi-purpose venue even has its own cable car routed towards a special viewing platform 106m above the pitch, offering a staggering panoramic view of the nearby city and it’s shorelines. Bizarrely, the ground also houses the world’s largest swing, delighting passengers with a 220 metre ride over the pitch. Unfortunately killjoys at FIFA – blatantly bitter about the lack of swings in their own childhood - have closed the attractions for the duration of the tournament.

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Green Point Stadium, Cape Town
Capacity: 78,000
Games: Host of the second semi final match, one of the quarter final and a selection of the first and second round games.

Dubbed by FIFA as, ‘One of the most artistic football venues in South Africa,’ the ground has been purpose-built for the 2010 tournament. It’s UFO-like exterior is designed to reduce noise and light pollution leaking from the stands to the nearby city. Within easy distance of the sea, the ground rests on land that was once a golf course, and is surrounded by a 60-hectare urban park.

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The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Capacity: 48,459
Games: The venue for a quarter final and the match for third place, as well as England’s June 23 game with Slovenia.

This is the first stadium dedicated to football in the city and connecting areas and cost an estimated $270 million to build. Resembling the cushioning of a hovercraft with its eye-catching roof structure, the stadium fittingly overlooks a lake. The first major test came when it hosted the Kaizer Chiefs – the football team and not the band that is. They beat the Orlando Pirates 4-3 on penalties in the Vodacom Challenge before going on to play our own Manchester City in the final.

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Mbombela Stadium
Capacity: 43,500
Games: First round group stages.

Another of the freshly built stadia for South Africa’s turn to host the competition, the Mbombela is siSwati for ‘many people together in a small space.’  The roof supports are constructed to resemble the long necks of Giraffes, in a nod to the surrounding  big game parks.

Words by Jordan Waller