Emirates Airline Park, also popularly known by its old name Ellis Park Stadium, was constructed in 1928 and was first named for Mr J.D. Ellis who initially made the land for the stadium available. The stadium is home to Johannesburg's rugby team, the Highveld Lions, and accommodates around 60,000 spectators. Used primarily for rugby games, the stadium has also hosted other large scale events such as international soccer matches and concerts.
The Emirates Airline Park has been the site of numerous significant milestones in South African sporting history, most memorably the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final, where South Africa recorded its first major international sporting achievement after years of isolation.
On 24 June 1995 the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, defeated New Zealand’s All Blacks 15-12 in the Rugby World Cup at this stadium. The event became an international news story as the country’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, took to the pitch wearing a Springboks shirt to hand the trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar. South Africans of all races were united in celebration and that moment is considered a key stepping stone towards the creation of a united South Africa after decades of systematised racial discrimination. In 2009, the event was adapted for film - Invictus - by Hollywood director Clint Eastwood.
In 2009, the stadium played host to the FIFA Confederations Cup™ final. The stadium was upgraded prior to the Confederations Cup, which was considered a dress rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup™ in 2010, during which the stadium also hosted numerous international football matches.
In 2005, 10 years after hosting the memorable Rugby World Cup Final, the stadium became the first black-owned stadium in South Africa when the Golden Lions Rugby Union relinquished management to a majority black-owned company. Today, the stadium is managed by Interza Lesego, Orlando Pirates Football Club and Ellis Park World of Sport.
Besides sporting events, the stadium is also used for conferences and has nine conferencing venues, which can host up to 1,000 people at a time. Visitors can choose between executive suites and banquet conference venues, all overlooking the pitch.
Tours of the stadium can be arranged and it is also possible to visit the Ellis Park Rugby Museum (located within the stadium) which contains a huge and fascinating collection of rugby memorabilia relating to the stadium and the Springboks national team.
From the M1 South, take the Houghton/Joe Slovo Drive off-ramp. Keep on Joe Slovo Drive. Just after the Ponte Tower, turn left into Beit or Currey streets and follow the signs for Ellis Park Stadium.