Where we’ll be watching

The matches of the 2010 World Cup will be held at 10 venues scattered throughout South Africa.  We will be seeing games at three of the stadia.

…unless we go a little wild and elect to squeeze in USA v. Algeria at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium.  On the same day that we see Ghana v. Germany.  But that’s another post for another day!

What we’ll see at Soccer City
Argentina v. Korea Republic
Brazil v. Côte d’Ivoire
Ghana v. Germany
Round of 16 – 1B v 2A

The site of the first match and the last match that we’ll be attending at this summer’s World Cup, we’re going to spend a lot of quality time at Soccer City.  It is the biggest venue hosting tournament games, with a seating capacity of 94,700; the opening and the final matches of the World Cup will be held at Soccer City.

Soccer City reportedly gets so loud that the ground outside of the venue shakes.  I’m interested to see how the sound in Soccer City will compare to our beloved Michigan Stadium, which holds more people (at the completion of current rennovations, capacity at Michigan Stadium will be 108,000, making it the largest football stadium in the USA) but is notoriously quiet.  And seriously lacking in vuvuzelas.

What we’ll see at
Ellis Park

Slovenia v. USA
Slovakia v. Italy

Our first encounter with Ellis Park was through the magic of Hollywood.  Ellis Park was brought to the silver screen in the recent Invictus, a drama about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.  South Africa hosted the tournament after the fall of apartheid.

Ellis Park was the site of the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup final, where South Africa famously upset New Zealand.

Will we see a historic upset at Ellis Park?  Not likely.  A pair of close, well-played, memorable matches would suit us just fine.

What we’ll see at Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Mexico v. Uruguay
Round of 16 – 1C v 2D

The two matches we’re seeing at Royal Bafokeng Stadium are the only games that we’re attending beyond the city of Johannesburg. The stadium is located just outside of Rustenburg, a two-hour bus ride away from Johannesburg.

With 42,000 seats, Royal Bafokeng Stadium is the smallest venue we’ll be visiting (Ellis Park has a capacity of 62,567).  There is a track that encircles the pitch that keeps a bit of distance between the match and the spectators, so we’re probably lucky to have Category 1 seats for both matches!

I am curious to see how much FIFA homogenizes the atmosphere.  I expect that many aspects of the experience (concessions, programs, souvenirs, visuals) will be common amongst all of the host venues.  For those of you who have attended a World Cup: do the stadia or the location have much influence on the atmosphere of the game?  Does the stadium make any difference or is it all dependent on the fans and the teams and the overall quality of the match?   Can one stadium be inherently more pleasurable to watch a match at than another stadium?

We’ll report back on our experiences at Ellis Park, Soccer City and Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

T-minus 24 days to departure.

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