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January 15, 2015
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Top 15 Mega-Event Venues in Africa


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Football stadiumAlthough there are arguments both for and against mega events and their apparent return on investment, no one can refute the revenue they bring in when they are pulled off correctly. And with so many pop stars, sporting events and festivals constantly looking to expand their fandoms, it’s no wonder that the entertainment sector generally does well. In Africa alone there are 789 stadiums according to WorldStadiums.com, with a number of convention centres across the continent doubling as concert halls and festival hosts. So without further ado, we pay homage to mega event venues across the continent with this hearty countdown in no particular order.

  1. FNB Stadium (Soccer City), Nasrec

This iconic, 94,000-seater situated in Nasrec is known across the world for its positioning during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It regularly hosts international and local football and rugby matches, as well as some of the biggest global music super stars, including the likes of U2, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

  1. Coca-Cola Dome

Since 1997 the Coca-Cola Dome has been capturing the significant cultural diversity of South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, the venue has been used for entertainers, banquets, concerts, exhibitions and other special events. The Coca-Cola Dome is home to some of SA’s top consumer exhibitions and can suit the demands of a 3,000m2 to a massive, 15,000m2 expo, while its arena can host a fully seated capacity of 13,000 people to a combination of seated and standing capacity of 19,000 people. This truly is one of the most flexible entertainment spaces in Africa.

  1. The Super Bowl at Sun City, North West

One of the finest venues for concerts, the Super Bowl at Sun City Resort in Johannesburg is renowned for its star-studded evenings. The likes of Queen, Bryan Adams, Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart have performed at this 6,000 seat arena, which also doubles as a venue for beauty pageants, sporting and theatre productions with spectacular sets and glittering costumes.

  1. Cape Town International Convention Centre

Home to the renowned Cape Town International Jazz Festival and a host for the Loerie Awards for many years, the Cape Town International Convention Centre is a multipurpose venue that suits both intimate settings and large-scale trade shows. It has 38 meeting rooms of varying sizes and can hold between 45,000 and 60,000 people in its exhibition halls, making it an ideal mega-event location.  

  1. Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi

Completed in 1983 with a vision to bid for the 4th All-Africa Games in 1987, the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, was what gave Kenya its international status in sporting events. After securing the bid, it essentially gave birth to the subsequent Moi International Sports Centre. Nyayo has a Main Stadium that holds up to 30,000 people, an Aquatic Centre with spectator terraces for 2,000 people, an indoor gymnasium with 2,500 capacity, and handball and volleyball training courts with a 1,500 capacity. The stadium has been used multiple times for social events, large gatherings, concerts, national holiday celebrations and more.

  1. Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani

Based in Kasarani, Kenya, the Moi International Sports Centre – now the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani – is the largest multi-purpose sports centre in Kenya. The venue consists of the 60,000-seat Kasarani Stadium, the Kasarani Indoor Arena, The Kasarani Aquatic Stadium and an onsite hotel, The Stadion, together with assorted restaurants and ample parking.

  1. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Although most of South Africa’s stadiums have received criticism for lack of return on investment post-2010, the Moses Mabhida Stadium has, since 2011,been on a mission to revive itself as a sought after attraction. Not only does it have a SkyCar and Viewing platform with stunning, 360-degree views of Durban and beyond, but it also has an 80m free-fall swing into the stadium bowl, Segway gliding tours, an adventure walk to the top of the 106m arch and a number of other activities. Of course its mega events schedule is regularly filled, with the Pet Shop Boys, Michael Bublé and the Top Gear Festival visiting the stadium in late 2014 and early 2015.

  1. Abuja National Stadium

Situated in the rapidly developing Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, the Abuja National Stadium was constructed in mid-2000 to host the 8th All-Africa Games. The 60,491-seater is an ultra-modern, multi-purpose sports complex and has been tagged as one of the greatest architectural landmarks in the city. It is a centre for various sport matches, as well as social, cultural and religious events.

  1. Durban International Convention Centre

Also known as the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex, Durban International Convention Centre is a powerhouse of eventing – particular in the MICE realm. But it is also stretching into the entertainment sector, hosting numerous annual award ceremonies, boy band The Script in February 2015, and comedian Russell Peters’ Almost Famous World Tour in January. Durban ICC is world renowned, with an array of awards and accolades under its belt. These include winning Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre 13 times (World Travel Awards), placing in the Top 15 Congress Centres in the World (AIPC), the Business Excellence Award (World Confederation of Businesses), and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Blazon awarded to their Executive Chef John Moatshe for outstanding culinary achievements.

  1. Salle Omnisport de Rades, Tunisia

The Arena of Rades is an indoor sporting facility in Tunisia. It can hold up to 17,000 guests and has hosted events like basketball, handball and volleyball, as well as a number of concerts. Five-star hotels such as El Mouradi Hotel Africa abound in the area, making this an ideal spot to enjoy an event and to relax afterwards – especially with their many leisure activities like diving, waterskiing, sailing, snorkelling, tennis, surfing and golf.

  1. Gallagher Convention Centre

Although the Gallagher Convention Centre is known for its conferencing and exhibition qualities, it is also an ideal place for suave, large-scale functions. Not only does it have a host of meetings rooms and venues of varying sizes to choose from, but it also has over 27,000m2 in exhibition space to boot, complemented by two fully equipped restaurants. Its parking facilities are also worth a mention, with efficient access at street level and parking for over 10,000 vehicles at any given time.

  1. Cairo International Stadium

Also known as Stad El Qahira El Dawly, the Cairo International Stadium is an Olympic standard multi-use stadium with an all-seated capacity of 74,100. It is the centre of events in the region and is also the 69th largest stadium in the world. Located in the north eastern suburbs of the city and about 30 minutes from the airport and downtown, it is ideally located for any mega events. In 2005, it underwent major renovation in preparation for the African Cup of Nations the following year, bringing the venue up to 21st century world standard together with all its multi-game Olympic facilities. Cairo stadium is known for its exuberant atmosphere – and for its capacity, giving it notoriety for holding more people than intended in the past.

  1. Cairo Opera House Theatres

Much can be said about Egypt’s cultural and historical contribution to the world, but not many realise that it is still an avid contributor to our arts and culture scene today. The Cairo Opera House Theatres, which consist of seven theatres of varying sizes and styles – including an open-air and a Roman amphitheatre – are equipped with the most advanced facilities not only in the Middle East, but across the African continent as well. Its main hall seats up to 1,200 spectators over four levels, while the exquisite Gomhouria Theatre holds medium-sized performances.  Also of note is the National Arab Music Institute, which dates back to 1914. In 2001, it underwent comprehensive renovation and modern technologies were introduced, as well as a number of halls commemorating significant Egyptian musicians and visual artists.

  1. Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar es Salaam

Home of the Tanzanian football team, the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam is no stranger to mega events in the region. It can hold up to 60,000 people seated and opened not too long ago in 2007. This beautiful facility saw over 50,000 excited fans in attendance at the Night of Hope concert in August last year.

  1. Expo Centre, Johannesburg

Johannesburg’s Expo Centre is a well-known option for both consumer exhibitions and trade shows, among other things. It is one of South Africa’s largest multi-purpose facilities, with over 50,000m2 of indoor space and over 100,000m2 of outdoor space. Its arena can accommodate up to 20,000 people and is a convenient 30 minute drive from OR Tambo International Airport. The Expo Centre has won the PMR Africa Award 4 times, validating its quality, while a number of trade shows and festivals including the much anticipated electronic music festival, Ultra, will be taking place here in 2015.

Sidebar: African Stadiums with Largest Capacity

Stadium

Capacity

City

Country

FNB Stadium (Soccer City)

94,736

Johannesburg

South Africa

Borg El Arab Stadium

86,000

Alexandria

Egypt

Stade des Martyrs

80,000

Kinshasa

DR Congo

Cairo International Stadium

75,000

Cairo

Egypt

Stade Mohamed V

67,000

Casablanca

Morocco

June 11 Stadium

65,000

Tripoli

Libya

Stade 5 Juillet 1962

64,000

Algiers

Algeria

Ellis Park Stadium

62,567

Johannesburg

South Africa

Abuja Stadium

60,491

Abuja

Nigeria

Stade Olympique de Radès

60,000

Radès

Tunisia

Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium

60,000

Dar es Salaam

Tanzania

Stade Leopold Senghor

60,000

Dakar

Senegal

Moi International Sports Centre

60,000

Nairobi

Kenya

National Sports Stadium

60,000

Harare

Zimbabwe

Odi Stadium

60,000

Mabopane

South Africa

 


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