March 5, 2001

Paarl, Benoni join World Cup party

Boland Park in Paarl and Willowmoore Park in Benoni will join South Africa's World Cup party in two years' time, the executive director of CWC 2003, Ali Bacher announced on Monday.

The applications by Paarl and Benoni to stage World Cup matches had been accepted by the World Cup policy committee, said Bacher, and in both instances the fact that the venues had produced near-capacity crowds for one-day internationals, even when South Africa were not playing, had tipped the scales in their favour.

Both grounds, however, will have to undergo improvements before the World Cup takes place. Boland Park had agreed to the provision of eight new practice pitches as well as attending to a drainage problem while at Willowmoore Park, where three new middle strips have already been laid, a further two pitches are required.

In each instance, the staging of matches at these venues will be supported by professional management teams moved in for the games.

The inclusion of Paarl and Benoni brings to 12 the number of South African centres that will stage World Cup games. Matches will also be played in Zimbabwe and Kenya provided the grounds meet requirements.

Paarl and Benoni will also share in a R35-million allocation specifically set aside for ground improvements for the World Cup. The biggest allocations - R4,5-million each - will go to Newlands and the Wanderers, venues for the opening ceremony and final respectively.

Semi-final hosts Kingsmead and St George's Park will revceive R4-million each, while the breakdown for the rest of the venues is: SuperSport Park (R3,5-million), Goodyear Park (R3,5-million), Buffalo Park (R3-million), De Beers Diamond Oval (R2-million), Boland Park (R2-million), Willowmoore Park (R2-million), North West Stadium (R1,3-million) and the Maritzburg Oval (R700 000).

Bacher also said that the policy committee had decided to appoint seven "cricket ambassadors" from overs for the tournament. "These will be former great players of integrity and high standing in the game," said Bacher. "Their function will be to help us promote the World Cup to all South Africans."

In addition to these ambassadors, the 2003 World Cup intends to enlist a number of prominent South African sportsmen and women to the cause. "People like South African football captain Lucas Radebe and golfer Ernie Els," said Bacher.

For the semi-finals and final, these luminaries will be joined by a host of administrators from around the world, as well as the presidents of the IOC, FIFA and the International Rugby Board.