U2, Bono & Co. Rock Cape Town Stadium & the Fan Walk

The controversial and troubled  event venue Cape Town Stadium  and the  infrastructure of street improvements, including the  2.4 km Fan Walk from the central city to the iconic event venue in Green Point, both built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which will be enlivened and activated by entertainment and thousands of Rock fans on the evening and night of Friday 18 February 2011 for the U2 360° Tour.

According to the Cape Town Partnership website:” Apart from murals set along the entire route, other elements will include a stage with a screen back-drop at St Andrews Square setting the scene for DJs and a VJ while rock bands will appear from a roof-top on Somerset Rd, emulating U2’s video shot in LA of the song “Streets With No Name”.

“Additional elements along the route will include sky-beams, cyber stilt-walkers, a marching band, mist-tunnels and activations from KFM.”

“While it is one of the most enjoyable and safe ways of reaching Cape Town Stadium from the City we believe the Fan Walk will also be an experience on its own, providing a unique sense of the City along with entertainment elements paying homage to U2,” says Lesley de Reuck, Director of the Cape Town Stadium.

The Fan Walk also winds its way through some of Cape Town’s most vibrant neighborhoods with numerous restaurants and nightlife spots ready to cater for fans before and after the concert, creating an exciting and memorable experience in Africa’s most inimitable city.”

There is controversy around the stadiums future management and cost overruns which has been in the news lately, a report from the Cape Argus newspaper states:

“Cape Town Stadium’s pitch has been removed to make way for one of the largest concert stages in South Africa’s history ahead of U2’s performance next Friday.

The grass was first cut to sand level and the stadium’s operational manager, Louw Visagie, said it would take until today to remove the rest of the grass needed to accommodate the 8 000m2 stage.

“After the pitch is cleared of grass we will hand over the venue to Big Concerts who will start building the stage. The concert organisers will foot the bill for the removal of the grass and for replacing it,” he said.

Visage said after the show, on February 18, the ground would be assessed for damage before a new pitch was seeded.Visagie said the 11 479m2 pitch would be back to normal by May 28.

According to Pieter Cronje, director of communications for the City of Cape Town, the removal of the grass was necessary.”Spectators will be standing in the pitch area and the protective covering (left) for a long period would have caused the grass to die,” Cronje said.

Lesley De Reuck, director of the stadium, said the U2 concert was a chance to establish the venue as the multi-purpose space for which it was built.

“The geographical position of the stadium is unparalleled in the world… The vibe of the restaurants, fan walk and the people shows that we can offer a spectacle and not just an event,” De Reuck said.

Sibusiso Nkomo Cape Argus, Wed, 2 Feb 2011.

Bono (C), singer of the Irish rock band U2 performs on stage next to Adam Clayton (R) and The Edge during their "360° Tour" at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. AFP PHOTO

The New Age newspaper reporting  on the tour  today said: “It’s fitting that one of the most politically plugged-in rock bands is debuting its world tour in South Africa on the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s first major rally after being released from prison, and at the same stadium where the anti-apartheid icon enthralled hundreds of thousands.

And it’s a coincidence, U2 members told reporters Friday before a rehearsal at the historic FNB Stadium – known as Soccer City when it hosted the World Cup opening and closing games last year, for which it underwent a major renovation.

Guitarist The Edge said he only learned the day before that Sunday’s concert fell on a historic day.

“It’s such a beautiful, poetic day,” he said.

Lead singer Bono noted that history was being made at the other end of Africa. In Egypt Friday, Hosni Mubarak resigned as president after three decades in power and weeks of pro-democracy protests.

“This continent is on fire,” Bono said, adding he hoped Egypt would benefit from leadership as visionary as Mandela’s.

The Edge added: “The real hope for Egypt is that it actually will become more democratic after this.”

Bono said Mandela and retired Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu – who makes a virtual appearance in U2’s current show – have inspired his global campaigns against AIDS and poverty. Bono was planning to visit AIDS projects in South Africa between Sunday’s concert and a second one in Cape Town on Feb. 18. U2 last played in South Africa in 1998.”

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