Goal! Beautiful Game, Amazing Stadiums

June 24, 2010
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I tried really hard to get some work done this morning. I thought it might be possible to work on some reinforcing details while listening to the US take on Algeria in the World Cup.  Between the vuvuzelas, the chanting crowd and two very excitable radio commentators, I quickly became immersed in the game.  Throughout the first half, the US mounted numerous challenges to the Algerian defense.  Without a visual, I could only imagine what had transpired.  By half time, I could no longer take it.

I grabbed a few colleagues, likewise struggling to focus on anything but soccer.  We headed to a nearby pub, ordered some Irish coffees and let out our nervous energy with each scoring opportunity.  When Landon Donovan scored in the 91st minute the bar went crazy.  I jumped out of my seat and high-fived and hugged everyone in sight.  What an experience.  Oh but to have been there in South Africa…

When it comes to pageantry and displays of national pride, the World Cup can only be matched by the Olympics.  However, the stadium settings of the World Cup provide the best backdrop to the Herculean display of sport.  South Africa’s venues are suitably impressive and unique to their surroundings.

Soccer City, in Johannesburg, is perhaps most fitting for the African continent.  The stadium design is inspired by an African pot known as the calabash.  It’s said that the stadium is most impressively viewed at night, when interior lightning creates a uniquely African pattern through the exterior skin.  It will be the site of the final match.

http://www.fifa.com/mm/photo/tournament/destination/01/18/30/62/1183062%5ffull-lnd.jpg

http://www.fifa.com/mm/photo/tournament/destination/01/18/30/62/1183062%5ffull-lnd.jpg

Green Point Stadium, in Cape Town, is arguably one of the most artistic venues in the world.  Situated near the coast, it appears light enough to float away like a giant ark.  While it projects a decidedly modern image, the lightweight roof concept – cantilevering inward from an exterior structure and leaning to an interior compression ring – has roots in the fabric sun-shades employed by the Romans at the Coliseum.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is located in Port Elizabeth, midway between Cape Town and Durban along the coast of the Indian Ocean.  The stadium has a unique roof-structure comprised of a sequence of petal-shaped modules.

Durban Stadium is my favorite World Cup venue.  The roof is supported by a massive 350m long arch that spans the entire stadium.  If you’re not all that into the game, you can take a tram to the top of the arch and take in the 360-degree view from 106m above the field.

Which stadium is your favorite?  How far do you think the US team will go?  Will they earn the chance to play at Soccer City?  Please share your comments below.

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