The stadium was formerly named after Mr J.D. Ellis who made the area for the stadium available.
League, provincial, and international games have all been played at the stadium, and it has seen such teams as Brazil, Manchester United and Arsenal play. Ellis Park Stadium is the centerpiece of a sporting sector in the south-east of Johannesburg, where it neighbours Johannesburg Stadium (athletics), Standard Bank Stadium (tennis), and an Olympic-class swimming pool.
Coca-Cola Park is home to the following teams:
Cricket matches were held at the stadium in the past. It hosted six Test matches between 1948 and 1954, but it has not been used for first-class cricket since New Wanderers Stadium opened in 1956 and is now used only for rugby and soccer.
In 1889 when after a long and hard fought battle the Transvaal Rugby Football Union (now the Golden Lions Rugby Union) was formed and established a domain. The first games were played at the Wanderers Club’s stadium whose grounds were situated where Johannesburg Park station is today. Rows between the different rugby clubs as well as the Wanderers Club's claim of the field for the use of cricket games, forced the Transvaal Rugby Football Union to look for an alternative.
An area with a quarry and garbage dumps in Doornfontein was identified in 1927 as the possible alternative. The Transvaal Rugby Football Union 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 was born Ellis Park 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.
Ellis Park played the host for cricket matches after an agreement was reached between Transvaal Rugby Football Union and The Transvaal Cricket Union. From 1947 when the cricket pitch was laid until 1956, Ellis Park was host to various cricket matches with the final games played in the 1953/54 series against New Zealand. Cricket then moved to its new venue where the current Wanderers still is today.
On 28 April 1969 the Transvaal Rugby Football Union 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. Games were played at the Wanderers while the stadium was being rebuilt.
A new Transvaal Rugby Football Union 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.
Today the Golden Lions Rugby Union (Transvaal Rugby Union before) and Ellis Park Stadium (Pty) Ltd are debt free and have cash resources of more than all the other Unions and South African Rugby Union combined as well as borrowing powers of a similar amount.
In 2005 Coca-Cola Park made history by becoming the first black-owned stadium in South Africa. The Golden Lions Rugby Football Union passed the management of the Ellis Park Precinct to a company with 51% black ownership. Interza Lesego, Orlando Pirates F.C. and Ellis Park Stadium (Pty) Ltd make up the new management of the Ellis Park Precinct.
The stadium was also witness to a bizarre event during a Premier Soccer League football match between Orlando Pirates and Black Leopards on January 17 2007 when high winds blew several sideline advertising boards onto the pitch, striking a linesman and three players. Play resumed 7 minutes later, but the match was ultimately abandoned 6 minutes from full time due to sudden torrential rains and lightning. The game's kickoff previously had been delayed 15 minutes by a power failure.
Unlike most other 2010 FIFA World Cup venues, it will likely be able to use its commercial name during the World Cup. FIFA controls all naming rights associated with the World Cup, which means that stadiums generally cannot use commercial names during the competition; however, The Coca-Cola Company is a major FIFA sponsor.