Despite it being in one of the smaller centres, the Fifa Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth has attracted the third most visitors during the first two weeks of the World Cup.

“After the second week, we ranked third in the country based on attendance,” said local Fan Fest director Glenn van Eck. By last Friday evening 150 000 people had passed through the turnstiles at St George’s Park.

Of the 10 official sites countrywide – one for each Host City – only those in Durban and Cape Town had outperformed the one in PE.

According to Fifa totals, the parks in Sandton and Soweto ranked fourth an fifth respectively.

While Cape Town naturally had a bigger pool to draw from, Durban’s mild winter weather had attracted a large proportion of the international visitors, according to Van Eck.

The Fan Fest concept originated in Korea in 2002 and was expanded on in Germany four years later to what we currently have in South Africa. “The idea is to give people an opportunity to view the games when the stadium is full.”

A second component, which has been added to enhance the overall experience, is the entertainment between matches. The final element, said Van Eck, was to provide a way for the public to share in the festivities and atmosphere of out-of-town matches.

“Furthermore, it also gives fans that may not have the financial means to share in the World Cup, an opportunity to do so.”

Van Eck said, effectively, each Fan Fest was linked to a stadium, which brings one back to the core reason for their existence – to cater for the overflow.

He said the profile of the teams, the entertainment on offer and the weather played a part in daily attendance figures. “These factors are interlinked.”

Attendance in the Friendly City peaked at 29 000 on the opening day with the lowest daily total around 2 500.

Bafana Bafana’s games were the best attended with just over 16 000 people watching their opening effort against Mexico, 10 500 the match against Uruguay and 13 000 their victory over France.

The encounter between Brazil and Portugal drew a crowd of 6 500 with another 6 500 coming specifically to watch Just Jinjer in concert on the same day.

In the first two weeks, the 20 000-mark was breached twice, 10 000 four times and only four days had fewer than 5 000 attendees.

Van Eck said the elements mostly had the final say. “There is a direct correlation between the weather and attendance during weeks one and two.”

He said turnstiles enabled the operators to monitor the real-time attendance figures for specific matches and performers.

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Just Jinjer lead singer Ard Matthews on-stage at the Fifa Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening. Photo: Richard Huggard

A German supporter celebrates at the Fifa Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth on Sunday evening. Photo: Richard Huggard

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FIFA Fan Fest™