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Fans face long commute to PE WCup games

Fans face long commute to PE WCup games

Football fans headed to Port Elizabeth for World Cup games may have to put up with a long distance commute, or even a trip on a cruise liner.
With limited hotel rooms available in the port city itself, organizers of the eight games being staged at one of the busiest venues have had to look far and wide for places to house the overseas visitors arriving to watch games at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
While that may not bother the small numbers of fans expected from Chile or Slovenia, the hordes of Germans and English may be staying a long way from the stadium.
"England and Germany are coming here. We will have to be working flat out to accommodate everyone," said Errol Heynes, the region's executive director for the 2010 World Cup. "We have hotels and rooms within a 150-kilometer (93-mile) radius. We have more than adequate accommodation at Nelson Mandela Bay, 30,000 beds within 150K (93-mile) radius."
Ray Whelan, an England-based consultant to FIFA in charge of match accommodation, ticketing and hospitality, said most fans would put up with the long commute.
"It's doable. I don't think for a football fan 150K is an issue," said Whelan. "I can put myself in that position because I'm a season ticket holder and I'd go to football games if it's kids playing or the Euro cup final. If I'm following my team and I've got two or three days to get between places I can do it."
Heynes said organizers would also explore housing some of the fans on a cruise liner traveling between Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
"We understand the market of the people who are coming here," Heynes said. "There will be some who require five-star accommodation and others who won't. The cruise liner gives us an option."
With eight games, no stadium at the 2010 World Cup will have more than the Nelson Mandela Bay ground, which has been built overlooking a lake and is within two kilometers of the coast. It was the first of the new World Cup stadiums to be completed on June 7, 2009, and then organizers set about replacing or modernizing the surrounding roads.
"Transport and roadworks have been a bit of a challenge because of being forced to dig up roads and then replace them," Heynes said. "But we hope to have all roads and facilities complete in time for World Cup 2010, and that includes rebuilt roads and car park at the stadium."
The British were first to settle in Port Elizabeth in 1820. Known as the "friendly city," Port Elizabeth can be wet and windy during the South African winter, when the World Cup is staged from June 11-July 11, with temperatures dropping to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit).
Port Elizabeth also stages a second-round game, a quarterfinal match and also the third-place playoff on the next-to-last day of the championship on July 10.