Fri Jun 04 04:28pm EDT
In the long run-up to South Africa hosting the world's biggest tournament this summer, one of the main worries was if the country had the proper football facilities to stage the event in front of the hundreds of thousands of fans who will turn up from all over the globe. Though there was concern at one point that the lack of construction progress on many of the new stadiums could possibly hinder South Africa from hosting the event, it all somehow came together and all the stadiums are up and running. And while the money used to build these beauties could've been spent in many, many better ways to help the people of South Africa, they're here now, so they might as well make the most of them.
[Photos: Hunks of the World Cup]
Many of these football cathedrals have yet to host a big international match, not a bad time for a grand opening. Here are the coolest of the cool.
Name: Green Point Stadium
City: Cape Town
Why it's awesome: Right near the ocean with the mountains of Cape Town serving as an amazing backdrop. It has a 4,500-ton retractable glass roof. Yes, not just any retractable roof — a glass retractrable roof. The exterior of the stadium is outfitted with noise-reducing cladding, probably so the blaring of the vuvuzelas doesn't cause pedestrian's heads to explode when walking around the concourse.
Name: Moses Mabhida Stadium
Why it's awesome: Takes design inspiration from the South African flag, with its spectacular arch providing both metaphoric and physical awesomeness. The two legs of the arch on the southern side of the stadium come together to form a single footing on the northern side, symbolizing the new unity of a once-divided country. Also, if you find yourself at a snoozer of a nil-nil draw and aren't afraid of heights, you can take a ride on the cable car that straddles the archway, climbing to a dizzying height of 347 feet.
Name: Mbombela Stadium
Why it's awesome: "Mbombela" is siSwati for "many people together in a small space." In very close proximity to the areas famous nearby game parks, which the stadium draws its visual inspiration from in the form of the zebra-striped seats and the giraffe-shaped roof structures that surround the stadium. It's like being on a safari at a football match! Just without the danger of being eaten by a lion.
Name: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Location: Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
Why it's awesome: Named after Nelson Mandela ... 'nuff said. But also, the stadium is the region's first soccer-specific arena, nicknamed "The Sunflower" for its petal-like roof design that overlooks the shores of the North End Lake.
Name: Soccer City Stadium
Why it's awesome: The crown jewel of football stadiums on the African continent, and one of the coolest-looking venues in the world. It will host the opening and final matches of the World Cup. The design is inspired by the traditional African pot known as the calabash. The stadium is extra impressive at night, when the exterior is lit up, making it look like some kind of futuristic flying saucer. One nation will have a party inside that beauty come the end of the tournament, but at that point it really won't matter what the place looks like.
Photos: Reuters Pictures, Getty Images