Bobani moves to salvage Lions Test in Bay

STEPPED IN: Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani has intervened at the eleventh hour to rescue the Bay’s chances of hosting a rugby Test against the British and Irish Lions in 2021
STEPPED IN: Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani has intervened at the eleventh hour to rescue the Bay’s chances of hosting a rugby Test against the British and Irish Lions in 2021

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani has signed a mayoral resolution giving the acting city manager permission to sign an agreement to host the British and Irish Lions.

The tour, which comes to SA every 12 years, takes place in 2021, bringing with it a huge contingent of media and rugby fans.

The municipality was told in a letter sent by SA Rugby boss Jurie Roux on October 30 that the delay in signing a venue-use agreement meant Port Elizabeth would not be considered as a host city.

In an article published on Monday, Bay acting executive director of sports, recreation, arts and culture Seki Mandaba told The Herald that a council resolution was needed before such an agreement could be signed.

The failure by the city council to meet in more than four months meant the acting city manager was unable to sign an agreement with SA Rugby Event Services, a subsidiary of SA Rugby.

Read the letter from Roux 

But Bobani said he was confident the city would be announced as a host when fixture details are released on Wednesday next week.

“As a proactive measure to meet the requirements of [SA Rugby Event Services] for us to qualify for consideration, I have [authorised] a mayoral resolution so that the acting city manager can sign the agreement,” Bobani said.

“I would like to make it categorically clear that the city is committed and working tirelessly to host Lions that will be coming to South Africa in 2021,” he said.

“As early as when this opportunity was presented to the city we were one of the first to indicate our clear interest to host this international spectacular.

“This interest does not only come from the fact that we are up to the task to host this tour, it is because of a well-known fact this city is a home of South African rugby.

“Our experience to host events of this magnitude speaks for itself. We would like to thank [SA Rugby Event Services] for their co-operation and understanding in this regard.”

Economic development political head Marlon Daniels, who is a PA councillor, welcomed the news of the mayoral resolution.

“The acting city manager has the instruction to sign the agreement. There is no way that because of us being dysfunctional that we are going to let this fall through the cracks,” he said.

Daniels said there was a need for the Bay to host the event due to the prevailing “sombre mood” in the city.

“We have to roll up our sleeves to ensure this works for the city. We will welcome the Lions when the time comes,” he said.

DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said previous Test matches led to a huge increase in revenue in the city’s coffers.

He said an independent economic impact study conducted by an international auditing firm, released by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, estimated that the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of a Test match was R155m.

“The study found that of the R155m contribution to GDP, about R32.2m flows to low-income households and the total number of temporary jobs created or permanent jobs sustained with just one Test match in Nelson Mandela Bay is estimated to be 447.

“What is disheartening is that the venue-use agreement has been passed from one acting city manager to the next since January 2019,” he said.

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