Ellis Park Stadium is a rugby union stadium in the city of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa. It hosted the Rugby World Cup final in 1995, which was won by the country's national team, the Springboks. The large stadium was the country's most modern when it was upgraded in 1982 to accommodate almost 60,000 people. Today, the stadium hosts both football and rugby, and is also used as a venue for other large events, such as open-air concerts. It has become synonymous with rugby as the only time when rugby was not played at Ellis Park was during 1980 and 1981 when the stadium was under construction during an upgrade.
The stadium was named after Mr JD Ellis who made the initial area for the stadium available.
League, provincial, and international games have all been played at the stadium, and it has seen such teams as Brazil, Manchester United and Arsenal play. Ellis Park Stadium is the centrepiece of a sporting sector in the south-east of Johannesburg, where it neighbours Johannesburg Stadium (athletics), Standard Bank Stadium (tennis), and an Olympic-class swimming pool.
Ellis Park Stadium is home to the following teams:
Orlando Pirates, Premier Soccer League)
Lions (Cats until September 2006), Golden Lions, Currie Cup domestic rugby competition
Cricket matches were held at the stadium in the past. It hosted six Test matches between 1948 and 1954, but it has not been used for first-class cricket since New Wanderers Stadium opened in 1956 and is now used only for rugby and soccer.
In 1889 when after a long and hard fought battle the Transvaal Rugby Football Union (now the Golden Lions Rugby Union) was formed and established a domain. The first games were played at the Wanderers Club’s stadium whose grounds were situated where Johannesburg Park station is today. Rows between the different rugby clubs as well as the Wanderers Club's claim of the field for the use of cricket games, forced the TRFU to look for an alternative.
An area with a quarry and garbage dumps in Doornfontein was identified in 1927 as the possible alternative. The TRFU negotiated with the Johannesburg City Council's, Mr JD Ellis, (after whom Ellis Park was named) for the availability of these grounds and 13 acres was made available. On 10 October 1927 the final rental agreement was signed. A quote of £600 was accepted for the grass and with a loan from the city council to the amount of £5 000, the building of the new stadium could commence. The stadium was built in eight months and in June 1928 the first test was played against the All Blacks. Thus was born Ellis Park which became internationally renowned and synonymous with rugby. Crowds of between 38 000 and a record crowd of 100 000 against the British Lions (in 1955) attended the matches.
Ellis Park played the host for cricket matches after an agreement was reached between TRFU and Cricket|Union. From 1947 when the cricket pitch was laid until 1956, Ellis Park was host to various cricket matches with the final games played in the 1953/54 series against New Zealand. Cricket then moved to its new venue where the current Wanderers still is today.
On 28 April 1969 the TRFU formed a stadium committee to investigate the possibilities of a new stadium since the one in use did not meet all the modern requirements. Only fifteen years later, after the game between Transvaal and the World Team on 31 March 1979, the old Ellis Park was demolished. Games were played at the Wanderers while the stadium was being rebuilt.
A new TRFU management was elected in 1984 with Dr Louis Luyt as Chairman and Prof Joe Poolman as his deputy. The decision was taken to place Ellis Park Stadium under the management of a trust. In 1987 after the Ellis Park Stadium was listed on the stock exchange and due to sound financial management by Dr Luyt, Ellis Park could announce that the debt to the amount of R53 million was fully paid and a further 86 suites could be erected.
In 1995 rugby fever hit the country with South Africa's hosting of the Rugby World Cup, the biggest event on the rugby calendar. Ellis Park was the venue for the World Cup Final which was played on 24 June 1995. In this spectacular final, New Zealand and South Africa ran onto the field at 14:45 in front of 62 000 spectators and millions of spectators in front of their TVs. South Africa won this game 15-12 in extra time.
In 2005 Ellis Park Stadium made history by becoming the first black owned stadium in South Africa. The Golden Lions Rugby Football Union passed the management of the Ellis Park Precinct to a company with 51% black ownership. Interza Lesego, Orlando Pirates F.C. and Ellis Park Stadium (Pty) Ltd make up the new management of the Ellis Park Precinct.
Ellis Park Stadium will host one of the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which its capacity will be upgraded by another 10,000 to create a total of 70,000 seats. New upper tiers will be added behind each of the goals, to the north and south of the stadium.
Source - Wikipedia
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