Venue News & Notes: Soccer Stadiums Destined for Rugby Players?

The billions of dollars that South Africa has spent building and renovating 10 stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup may end up benefiting another sport: rugby. While the venues have been filled to near capacity during the month-long tournament, the country’s economic divide between a mainly poor black majority and a predominantly white wealthy elite may dictate their future use. Soccer is the most popular sport in South Africa yet the white middle class supports rugby and cricket. “The problem with soccer in South Africa is that it is not a high-paying spectator sport or a high sponsor-attracting sport,” Jean-Francois Mercier, an economist at Citigroup Inc. in Johannesburg, said in an interview. “Rugby is. Using some of these stadiums for rugby matches could help” cover running costs…

… IOC President Jacques Rogge expressed confidence this week that London’s “lean but very workable budget” will deliver a successful Olympics in 2012 despite Britain’s economic crisis and massive spending cuts. “Every pound has to be really very well spent,” Rogge said during a tour of Olympic facilities in east London, including the flagship 80,000-seat main stadium. Nearly five years to the day since London was awarded the games in Singapore, Rogge also met with British Prime Minister David Cameron at his 10 Downing Street offices to discuss the government’s support for the Olympics…

…The San Francisco 49ers have taken significant steps toward building a new stadium. The Oakland Raiders would like a new home of their own. And with the league office reportedly preferring that the two teams share a venue, the Raiders could be destined for Santa Clara, CA. So the Raiders (technically, the Oakland Alameda County Commission) have concocted a 40-question survey aimed at gauging how much cash fans would be willing to fork over in order to help the team get new digs in Oakland, which could end up hosting the 49ers, too, if Santa Clara falls through…

…After decades of mostly small changes and a couple of recent significant upgrades, the area around Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum has taken on a more modern look with a spiffy new plaza at its northwest corner, a fancy attached practice facility to the southeast, and a new softball stadium across 8th Street. Soon, a much bigger change will come to the actual arena. The Thrillerdome will be hauled away in dumpsters, except for the dome. Discussions among school and Athletic Association officials, a prominent sports-arena architecture firm, and a construction company will result in gutting the 54-year-old building up to the roof. If plans continue evolving on the present track, by 2012-13, the Yellow Jackets will play in a $45 million new home.