Newlands’ future in doubt following Western Province stadium deal

Western Province Rugby will move to Cape Town Stadium in 2021 in a move that places the future of Newlands Stadium, the team’s current home, in doubt.

The City of Cape Town’s Council has approved a binding heads of agreement between the city, Cape Town Stadium (pictured) and Western Province for the team to make the venue its home from February 1, 2021. The deal will potentially span the next 99 years.

A “mutually beneficial” revenue share model has been agreed upon that grants Western Province preferential access to play all of its matches at Cape Town Stadium. Under the agreement, the city will be responsible for repairs, maintenance and operational costs at the stadium, which will retain its multi-purpose status and continue staging other sports and events.

As part of the deal, additional suites will be constructed at Cape Town Stadium, which has a capacity of 55,000 and was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Western Province Rugby Group chief executive Paul Zacks said: “These heads of agreement are the culmination of three long years of hard work. There is much ahead of us before we can play at Cape Town Stadium in 2021, with the primary anchor tenant agreement still to be finalised.”

The announcement comes after multiple reports last month claimed that Newlands Stadium, one of the world’s most historic rugby union venues, is poised to be demolished and redeveloped as residential and retail property.

Banking and asset management group Investec has reportedly been granted development rights to Newlands from 2021 through an agreement with the Western Province Rugby Football Union, which owns the stadium.

Reports claim that Investec has agreed a 99-year lease on Newlands, with an immediate payment of R110m (£5.8m/€6.7m/$7.5m) due to the WPRFU. Investec is said to be seeking to transform the Newlands site into residential and retail development, with the WPRFU to benefit from a five-per-cent share in any profits derived from this plan, plus a further 3.5-per-cent share from the resale of any units developed. The plan would require the green light from the City of Cape Town.

Newlands has a current capacity of around 52,000 and opened in 1888, staging its first official rugby match in 1890. It currently serves as the home of the Stormers Super Rugby franchise and domestic team Western Province, along with being a regular venue for national team games.

Image: Maryland Pride