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Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium is impossible to miss, rising up out of the Durban CBD and dwarfing its neighbouring ABSA Stadium. At night, I can’t help but view the satdium as a giant paper lantern about to float up into the atmosphere it is so beautiful.

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 If you think the stadium is impressivefrom the outside, from the field, the rows of multi-coloured chairs and the gargantuan sails forming the roof are something quite extraordinary and I felt quite choked up with pride to think that a structure of this magnitude exists here in little ol’ Durbs. The chairs, apparently have been coloured to look like the waves and sand. The effect is that the stands look full even when there is not a spectator in sight. I thought this was a good idea – it will certainly avoid the sad situation of empty stands showing up on national tv which happens frequently at ABSA.

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General tours around the stadium run every hour, with professional tours scheduled twice a day. The professional tour is a bit of a misnomer as our guide was far from professional. Some of the members of the public on the tour with us knew more about the stadium than she did and she wasn’t keen to look at us and talk, but often had her back to the group. The benefit of going on the professional tour is that you get to see more of the stadium. The standard tour simply takes you on to the side of the field and through the stadium window whereas the professional tour also takes you into the building itself with highlights including the President’s Suite and the players’ change rooms. I also loved sitting in the commentators’ booths, which have a fabulous view of the action.

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My husband was very taken with the jacuzzi baths built into the floor in the change rooms where the whole team can relax before a match, whilst I loved walking out through the tunnel into the sunlight on the field and looking up at the enormous sails and coloured seats, imagining what the players will feel as they are cheered by tens of thousands of fans. The tour then takes you on a lap around the stadium to the stadium window, which looks out towards the CBD. There will soon be sweeping lawns from the south entrance right to Argyle Road, which will transform this area into a modern urban parkscape.

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The best part of our tour was a trip up to the viewing platform perched 106 metres above the field on the top of the arch. The funicular takes about 20 people and moves slowly enough up the curve of the arch for you to take in the views as the details become smaller bit the vistas bigger. From the top, you can see from Umhlanga to the University. We took a pair of binoculars and spent ages identifying the landmarks of our lives. There is no time limit at the top and you simply catch the car back down when you’re ready. You can also climb up the other side of the arch attached to a harness if you are feeling adventurous, ending your climb with some time spent taking in the view.

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A general tour of the stadium will set you back R20, whilst the more extensive “professional” tour costs R75, which is worth it to see the areas which may never open to the public again. A trip up to the viewing platform at is a bargain at R50 for this unique experience, whilst for those who are more energetic getting to the viewing platform via Shanks’ Pony will cost you R80. For more information, see www.mosesmabhidastadium.co.za or call 031-5828222.

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