The moratorium on any non-football events at the Athlone Stadium ahead of the Fifa 2010 World Cup is likely to see the City taken to court by the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association this week.
After decades of using the stadium as a venue for the traditional annual Cape minstrel competition, the city this year has refused permission for its use because they are worried about the grass on the pitch being damaged.
While it won’t host any World Cup matches, the Athlone Stadium is to be used as a training venue.
The Minstrel carnival, known as the Kaapse Klopse, is a traditional parade of over 10 000 colourfully dressed minstrels who march through the city on January 2.Dating back over 150 years when January 2 was marked as the only day in the year when slaves had a day off, hundreds of minstrel troupes minstrels take part in a highly contested competition after the tweede nuwe jaar’s dag parade during the months of January and February. The Athlone Stadium has been a competition venue since shortly after its construction in the ‘70s.
On Monday CEO of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association, Kevin Momberg, said they would be approaching the Cape High Court to serve court papers to the city in “the next day or two”.
Momberg said this was after a number of discussions with the city to try resolve the issue.
He said the association applied on January 21 this year to use the stadium during the first months of 2010.
And he said the city’s claim that they sent him a letter the next day (Jan 22) informing the association that they would not be able to use the stadium as a venue in 2010 is a lie.
Momberg said this letter was only recently produced by the city and is “a fake” as they had no feedback from the city until August after numerous enquiries, including letters sent to them by the association’s lawyers.
He said they had been kicked out of the Green Point stadium – now the Cape Town Stadium – due to World Cup preparations and now they were being told to give up the Athlone Stadium as well, and the alternative venue the city had proposed – the Turfhall Stadium – was not suitable for their needs.
The association had previously won a court order to overrule the city’s decision to deny them use of the Athlone Stadium for a mid-year minstrel competition in 2007 in favour of a soccer organization.
City of Cape Town Economic, Social Development and Tourism director Mansoor Mohamed said he had told Momberg in November that the Athlone Stadium would be unavailable as the preparation of the grounds was “at a very sensitive stage”.
Mohamed said the only activities allowed on the pitch were those that would allow for testing of the grounds, such as a few football matches.He claims a letter was sent to Momberg on January 22 this year indicating that Athlone Stadium will not be available ahead during the 2009/2010 season.