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World Cup: Another elephant -- this one white -- for South Africa stadium

June 28, 2010 |  9:45 am

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium could become a "white elephant" when the World Cup ends after Port Elizabeth, South Africa's, bankrupt soccer team was sold to investors from outside the city.

Current team owner Sipho Pityana said Monday the new buyers could move the team.

Bay United Football Club General Manager Lungsi Mooi told the Associated Press that about 30 players and 10 staff could lose their jobs if the Premier Soccer League first division team moves outside the area.

"I have no doubt that without a full-time professional team in the province, the stadium will become a white elephant," Mooi said.

The 42,486-capacity stadium was built specially for the World Cup and cost $159 million.

Officially opened in late February, the stadium has hosted two international rugby matches — the British and Irish Lions played an invitational side and a non-test Argentina team played an Eastern Cape invitational side.

The stadium is not configured for cricket, so only soccer, rugby and potentially concerts remain as options to keep the stadium viable.

Pityana said the team will release a statement later this week with the identity of the new owners.

"All I can say now is that it has not been bought by a Nelson Mandela Bay-based businessman, and I cannot say that it will stay in the city or not," Pityana said.

Mooi said there was not much prospect of the stadium staying financially viable if there was no permanent tenant. She said there is a local rugby team, but "it is not professional and plays at a lower level."

The stadium has hosted six World Cup matches and two more will be played here — Friday's quarterfinal and the playoff for third place on July 10.

Port Elizabeth has had some of the lowest crowd figures of any host city.

-- The Associated Press