In 2005, Ellis Park Stadium made history by becoming the first black owned stadium in South Africa. The Golden Lions Rugby Union passed the management of the Ellis Park Precinct to a company with 51% black ownership. Interza Lesego, Orlando Pirates FC and Ellis Park Stadium (Pty) Ltd make up the new management of the Ellis Park Precinct.
Today Ellis Park is the home ground of Orlando Pirates Football Club, the Lions, the Cats, and is also the premier concert event in South Africa.
Ellis Park Stadium was upgraded in 2009 from a 59,611 to 65,000-seater, and was recently used as a match venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
History of Ellis Park
Ellis Park was first built in 1928 as a rugby union stadium. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1982, again exclusively for rugby. It was named after JD Ellis, a Johannesburg city councillor who approved the use of the land for a stadium.
It was a long and hard battle to establish a rugby domain for the Transvaal Rugby Football Union which was formed in 1889.
An area with a quarry and garbage dumps in Doornfontein was identified in 1927 as the possible alternative. The TRFU negotiated with the Johannesburg City Council's, Mr. JD Ellis, (after whom Ellis Park was named) for the availability of these grounds and 13 acres was made available. On 10 October 1927 the final rental agreement was signed.
A quote of £600 was accepted for the grass and with a loan from the city council to the amount of £5 000, the building of the new stadium could commence.
The stadium was built in eight months and in June 1928 the first test was played against the All-Blacks. Thus Ellis Park was born, which became internationally renowned and synonymous with rugby. Crowds of between 38 000 and a record crowd of 100 000 against the British Lions (in 1955) attended the matches.
On 28 April 1969 the TRFU formed a stadium committee to investigate the possibilities of a new stadium since the one in use did not meet all the modern requirements. Only fifteen years later, after the game between Transvaal and the World Team on 31 March 1979, the old Ellis Park was demolished.
A new TRFU management was elected in 1984 with Dr Louis Luyt as Chairman and Prof Joe Poolman as his deputy. The decision was taken to place Ellis Park Stadium under the management of a trust. In 1987 after the Ellis Park Stadium was listed on the stock exchange and due to sound financial management by Dr Luyt, Ellis Park could announce that the debt to the amount of R53 million was fully paid and a further 86 suites could be erected.
In 1995 rugby fever hit the country with South Africa's hosting of the Rugby World Cup, the biggest event on the rugby calendar. Ellis Park was the venue for the World Cup Final which was played on 24 June 1995. In this spectacular final, New Zealand and South Africa ran onto the field at 14:45 to a thunderous roar of 62 000 spectators and millions of spectators glued in front of their TV's. South Africa won this game 15-12 after extra time was allowed.
Layout of Stadium
Map to Venue
(click on the graphic for a larger view)