MBDA tasked with finding new stadium operator

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Nelson Mandela Bay council gives the go-ahead for the Mandela Bay Development Agency to start the process of finding a new stadium operator.

Current operator Access Management’s contract ends in June. The firm has managed the North End stadium since 2009.

At yesterday’s council meeting, held at the old Woolboard Exchange Building, acting city manager Johann Mettler sought councillors’ approval for the MBDA to conduct the public participation process to solicit views on the intention to get another stadium operator.

The city hopes to get an operator that will manage the stadium for longer than three years and transform the precinct into a national and international sports, leisure, events and tourism destination.

It wants an operator that can generate revenue for the city instead of relying on the municipality for funds, create jobs and make the stadium a catalyst for economic growth in the North End area and Bay region.

While the majority in the council praised Mettler for getting the process going four months before a new operator would start, COPE and the UDM felt it could be handled internally by municipal officials.

UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani said: “We want to thank you for starting the process in time so that we don’t go for another deviation, which was always the case in the past.

“My concern is, why use the MBDA to drive the process?

“You have capable officials who can do it. Or do you not have faith in your own officials to handle it?”

COPE councillor Rano Kayser said: “It’s the first time that before a contract is expiring, it comes months in advance. I must congratulate the city manager on that.

“However, we cannot create another municipality within a municipality. Granted, the MBDA has done good work in revitalising our CBD and so on.

“But let’s make use of internal staff . In any case, there is no stability in the MBDA.”

The ANC and DA disagreed, saying the MBDA was an entity of the municipality, owned fully by the city.

DA councillor Retief Odendaal said: “I can’t understand why we’re attacking our own officials. For once, we’re being proactive instead of reactive.

“We hope the city manager can ensure that the stadium becomes financially viable and not an albatross around our necks.”

Economic development department political head, ANC councillor Zukile Jodwana said the MBDA was owned by the municipality.

“The perception must be taken out that the MBDA is separate because then the MBDA will go around doing its own thing. We need to understand that it is a municipal entity,” Jodwana said.