By Lyse Comins Time of article publishedSep 11, 2020

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Durban – STRUGGLING businesses at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium have been thrown a lifeline after eThekwini Municipality yesterday announced a waiver on their rental during the lockdown and further concessions for future payments.

Vusi Mazibuko, eThekwini’s head of stadia and facilities unit management, said that because of stadium tenants’ “unprecedented financial distress” following the lockdown, the city’s full council had resolved to offer a Covid-19 rental rebate to retail shops and corporate suite tenants.

The approval came after management conducted Covid-19 business recovery engagements with tenants, who contribute to revenue generation through rental income.

Mazibuko said the relief measure included a 100% waiver of monthly rental, including interest accrued, limited to a maximum period of six months from April to September 2020.

Tenants would also benefit from a post-lockdown package of a 10% turnover monthly rental to replace the normal fixed monthly rental for retail shops for six months from the period of the reopening post-lockdown.

Corporate suite holders would be eligible for a 60% reduced monthly rental fee to replace the normal fixed monthly rental and charge on activation fees on bowl event days.

He said the stadium would also extend all tenants’ leases by a further 12 months to replace the months where tenants were unable to trade due to the lockdown restrictions.

Moses Mabhida Stadium reopened for meetings and conferences following the relaxation of lockdown regulations under level 2. Stadium tours and helicopter flips resumed, and gym and other stores have opened at the stadium.

Mazibuko said the stadium had prioritised the safety of tourists and guests, with Covid-19 compliance protocols in place.

“Moses Mabhida Stadium is welcoming Durbanites back to the city’s favourite playground, with Covid-19 protocols in place to ensure safe fun for the whole family on the Golden Mile.

“Our compliant conference and meeting venues are also hosting functions for up to 50 people as per the national regulations. It is really good to see the stadium coming to life again as we and our clients adjust to the new normal, and we look forward to the day we can welcome a capacity crowd back for a match or concert,” said Mazibuko.

Tenant and STS Sport owner Mark Lee said he was “very grateful” to the municipality for its support as it had saved his business.

“The fact that we have been given a six-month waiver and a turnover clause for the following six months definitely makes a huge difference in the sustainability of the business. If this had not been granted and we had been charged rent we would have closed our doors,” Lee said.

“A large part of our business relies on sporting events, sport activities and tourism. The gyms have only just opened, the athletics track and swimming pools are still closed, the sea is still basically out of bounds, cycling, swimming and running events are still not happening, there is a very limited local tourism market, and obviously no international tourists at this time. There are no rugby or soccer matches or other big crowd activities – all these things have a knock-on effect on our sustainability.

“We are trying hard not to retrench – but our staff are on short time at the moment. In July we tried opening but then due to the lack of footfall we limited our trading days to the weekends only. We opened fully again on August 31, and are hoping it picks up.”

Segway Gliding Tours co-owner Ricky Fields said the assistance was “a welcome relief” as she had to retrench staff during the lockdown and business was still slow without tourists.

A spokesperson for Virgin Active Moses Mabhida said: “The eThekwini Municipality has extended a rental relief offer in the interest of business continuity and Virgin Active lauds the innovative approach taken by the municipality.”

The Mercury