South Africa's oldest rugby venue faces possible demolition

Cricket - South Africa v Pakistan - Second Test - PPC Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa - January 5, 2019 General view inside the stadium during the match REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Western Province rugby are to move from the iconic Newlands stadium to the Cape Town Stadium, built for soccer's 2010 World Cup finals, in a move that will likely spell the end of the country's oldest rugby venue.

Western Province, which includes the Super Rugby Stormers, will move at the start of 2021 after signing a deal with the City of Cape Town's Council which makes them the primary tenant in a deal that potentially spans the next 99 years, a statement said.

Rugby had previously balked at moving from the aging Newlands, which Western Province Rugby Football Union owns, but have now been forced to across the city because of financial difficulties, media reports added.

Newlands now faces demolition and will be turned into residential space, although the statement issued about the move made no mention of its future.

"This is a watershed moment for Western Province rugby as we open an exciting new chapter which will help ensure our financial sustainability and grow the game in the future," Western Province Rugby Football Union President Zelt Marais said.

The Cape Town Stadium has been used since the World Cup for concerts, special events and is home to two of the city's professional soccer teams although they rarely manage to sell out the 55,000-seater venue.

Newlands, with a capacity of 51,900, opened in 1890 and has been the home to many memorable tests over the generations. The cricket ground with the same name stands next to it, the two venues separated by a railway line.

The view from Newlands of the imposing Table Mountain has made it one of sport's standout stadiums.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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