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#DurbanThrowbackThursday – Moses Mabhida Stadium from Conception to Icon

Named after stalwart of the armed struggle against apartheid Moses Mncane Mabhida , it is estimated that the creation of the Moses Mabhida Stadium injected some R155-billion directly and indirectly into the Durban region, creating an impressive 14 000 jobs which have positively impacted on low-income households. the stadium cost around R3.4-billion, and was across the road from the rugby stadium most popularly known as Kings Park. It has been widely acclaimed as an architectural masterpiece and has won roughly 27 awards to date.

Architectural rendering of  the then Durban Stadium
Architectural rendering of the then Durban Stadium

The iconic stadium and landmark of Durban’s skyline was designed by the Ibola Lethu Consortium. It is an engineering feat, defining our coastline with quite the spectacle of taught canvas and concrete, cleverly engineered to glow in practically any light.

Construction of the arch – mid way

Able to host a wide range of sporting events, the stadium also boasts fantastic natural ventilation and evokes a sense of space and airiness. In addition to the architectural masterpiece that is the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the venue also boasts a high-tech sky car, which whisks visitors up the soaring grand arch to a viewing platform at its peak, to soak up 360° views of the seafront and the city. There’s also a 500-stair adventure walk up the arch which is sure to get football fans’ hearts pumping.

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Early construction

If your heart, lungs and nerve are up to it, then tackle the Big Rush Big Swing − not only the world’s only stadium swing, but also the biggest swing of any kind anywhere. It’s even in the the Guinness Book of Records. Leap into space 106 m above the pitch and swing out in a mighty 220m arc under the iconic arch.

Construction of the arch completed

The 70 000-seat 2010 FIFA World Cup™ stadium hosted seven matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, including the semi-final between Spain and Germany & a semi-final attended by the likes of Paris Hilton, Leonoardo DiCaprio and John Travolta, in 2010.

In January 2011, the stadium hosted a T20 cricket match between South Africa and India, which was attended by some 54 000 people, a record for a cricket match in Africa.The stadium also hosts live music concerts, festivals and all manner of events.


  • The stadium is named after a giant of a man, Moses Mbheki Mncane Mabhida, who was one of those who helped to forge and maintain the powerful United Front that eventually saw the creation of a democratic and non-racial South Africa
  • Its design allows for natural ventilation and creates an incredible sense of space every bit as striking as the stadium’s famous arch
  • The shape of the iconic arch was inspired by the “Y shape” on the South African flag
  • The different levels of the stadium are supported by 1 750 columns and 216 raking beams that provide the main support to the seating panels
  • The roof is made of 46 000 m² of Teflon-coated glass fibre membrane that produces a translucent glow when the stadium is lit up
  • The roof is attached to the arch by 95 mm-diametre steel cables
  • The 350 m long free-span steel arch weighs 2 600 tonnes (the equivalent of 2 600 average cars)
  • The grand centre arch, 106 m high, is not just a design feature. The SkyCar takes visitors up to its highest point, where they can get out and enjoy breathtaking, panoramic views of the city and ocean
  • There are 120 luxury suites and business clubs, providing 7 500 VIP seats
  • The colour arrangement of the seating was conceptualised to look like the sea flowing onto the beach
  • Each seat is spacious and comfortable, providing a clear line-of-sight to the pitch
  • The usual stadium seating capacity is 56 000 which can be up-scaled to 85 000 for major events, such as the Olympic Games

Construction progress

2006-07-081Demolition of existing stadium, southern pavilion.Completed
2006-07-122Demolition of existing stadium, northern pavilion.Completed
2006-07-233Demolition of existing stadium, main pavilion.Completed
2007-04-014Construction begins.Completed
2008-03-205Arch construction begins.Completed
2009-01-135Arch construction complete.Completed
2009-01-016Aluminum façade construction begins.Completed
2009-08-017Roof cable and membrane works begins.Completed
2009-11-24Official completion.Completed


The beautiful, imposing Moses mabhida Stadium as it stands today
The beautiful, imposing Moses mabhida Stadium as it stands today

About Meredith Haywood

Meredith Haywood
I'm the Editor and Creative Director of 5 Star Durban, I Instagram a bit, I cook sometimes, but mostly I write, and edit... a lot... I'm a philanthropist at heart, and I can't resist fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies... recently I have started to ponder what owning a goat in a flat could be like...

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