World Cup 2014 Stadium Watch: Latest Update on Readiness in Rio and Elsewhere
Doubts surrounding the readiness of the 2014 World Cup's stadiums and infrastructure have surrounded the event since work began on hosting the tournament.
Since our last update in December, though, we can now see projects becoming reality with the opening of the first World Cup stadia in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte.
There are, however, ten more stadiums to complete.
For the moment, FIFA and the local organising committee insist that every stadium is on track for the games, while infrastructure improvements in the cities are being streamlined to ensure completion ahead of the Confederations Cup this summer and World Cup next year.
Let's take a look then at the progress of the twelve stadia set for use at the 2014 World Cup.
Maracanã (Rio De Janeiro)
Since our last update report in December, work has once more fallen behind schedule at the iconic stadium that will host the World Cup final.
The World Cup is in no doubt, and indeed, it must be considered highly unlikely that the stadium would not open in time for the Confederations Cup.
There are, though, worries emerging over its readiness for that competition.
Work was halted just last week as workers sought better salary and conditions, and although a full-scale strike was averted with the offer of an 11 percent raise, it was a threat that Brazil's organizing committee could have done without (Guardian).
The supporting steel structure of the roof is now in place, but the roof is still far from completion and is currently the area of greatest concern ahead of the stadium's opening with a match against England on June 2.
Photo taken in December 2012.
Mane Garrincha (Brasilia)
The national stadium in Brasilia is slated to host the opening game of the Confederations Cup, and it appears as though the 71,000 capacity crowd need not worry about the stadium's readiness.
Work is now 89 percent complete, and in the past ten days, work has begun on adding the self-cleaning membrane that is supposed to help retain heat and allow the passage of natural light to the stadium (Prensa Latina).
Work on the membrane is expected to be completed at some stage in March, with the keys ready for handover within the next couple of months.
There is still no update, however, on the post-2014 occupancy of the stadium.
Photo taken in December 2012.
Arena Corinthians (São Paulo)
The Arena Corinthians is one of the stadiums that remains furthest from completion at present, with work on the ground just 60 percent complete.
Work has begun recently on digging the area where the pitch will be placed, in order to provide drainage channels and other necessary installations, with that process expected to take some time to complete (Terra).
Work is still far from complete on the roof structure, although that too is still currently being rectified.
According to those in command, the stadium is on track to make the opening game of the World Cup in 16-months time.
Given the latest updates, though, there is little room to accommodate any further delays to the schedule.
A 65,000 capacity upgrade to the Castelão is complete, and the stadium has already been in action since January when local rivals Fortaleza and Ceará faced off in front of a boisterous crowd.
The stadium in Fortaleza has been a tremendous success story and will host its first important match next week when it plays host to the final of the Copa Nordeste—possibly between Fortaleza and Ceará once more.
Lighting, plumbing, big screens and more are all in place and functioning. Fortaleza should be congratulated, having beaten all other cities to completion in December.
Mineirão (Belo Horizonte)
From one success story to another. The giant Mineirão in Belo Horizonte is also open and ready for this summer's Confederations Cup, having hosted Cruzeiro against rivals Atlético Mineiro at the start of February.
The major disputes over the Mineirão now concern its eventual occupancy. Cruzeiro are the official occupants, but it remains to be seen whether a deal can be struck to allow Atlético and América to also use the enormous facility.
There were some issues at the opening match, with the stadium's bars not yet open, meaning there was a lack of refreshment on what was a scorching-hot summer day.
That work should, though, be complete in a matter of days and weeks, rather than months.
Belo Horizonte will be one of the four host cities for this summer's Confederations Cup and looks to be prepared well in advance of being called into action.
Photo taken in December 2012.
Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre)
Another of the restoration projects, rather than new builds, the Beira Rio is still expected to open in September 2013. Work on the stadium's new roof, however, will not be complete by its reopening.
Work is complete on the altering of the lower terraces, which were demolished and then rebuilt closer to the pitch, meaning that one of the most problematic aspects of the redesign has now been successfully negotiated.
Work is now underway on fitting an irrigation system on the pitch, and once that is complete, it will be a task of completing the external aesthetic overhaul and the roof system.
With well over a year until the World Cup and the bulk of the major redesign complete, there are few worries over progress at the Beira-Rio.
Photo from November 2012.
Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)
The Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador looks to be another World Cup success story, with work very close to completion well in advance of the World Cup.
The supports for the stadium's roof are in place and the membrane installed, with just final installations to be completed for the stadium to be declared structurally ready for use.
The 65,000-seat stadium is expected to be opened on March 29, according to Brazilian sports media giant Globo Esporte, with local rivals Bahia and Vitoría set for what will be a tough-fought local derby.
Arena Pernambuco (Recife)
Brazilian media reports (such as this from UOL) this week suggested that the stadium in Recife is now 90 percent complete, with the arena's roof now having been put in place.
The stadium is currently being fitted with seats in its upper tier, while preparations are well underway for the laying of the pitch which should be completed in early April. Work should be complete later the same month (Copa 2014).
The new stadium in Recife will host its first match at the Confederations Cup this summer and is well on course to meet that target.
Arena Pantanal (Cuiabá)
Cuiabá has been one of the main concerns for organisers, with work having fallen behind schedule last year due to heavy rain.
However, all seems to be somewhat back on track.
According to official estimates, work is currently 62 percent complete on the overall project. The secretary of the government office set up to deal with the World Cup has even stated to Brazilian media that it will host a Brazil international friendly later this year, showing a recent increase in confidence.
Work is still being done to put in place roof supports and also on the terraces in the East Stand. The official reports, though, suggest that all is going according to plan.
The Arena Pantanal will eventually hold nearly 44,000 people, with the capacity set for a 30 percent reduction following the tournament.
Photo taken in February 2013.
Arena Da Amazônia (Manaus)
Latest updates last week have the Arena Amazônia at just 53 percent completion, and while that is a dramatic improvement on December, it is still a major concern.
According to the official statistics released by Copa 2014, everything is on course to be completed as per their latest schedule and in time for the World Cup.
That will require everything to run according to plan in order to meet their targets, though.
The stairs of the terraces, for example, are just 33 percent complete, while the support beams of the stands are still far from ready for action. It is major work and will require a considerable time frame to complete.
Supposedly influenced by the culture and wildlife of the Amazon, the stadium will eventually hold 44,000 people for the World Cup itself.
Photo taken in February 2013.
Arena Das Dunas (Natal)
Perhaps the biggest worry of all the stadiums is the Arena das Dunas in Natal, which has already been hit by several holdups en-route to completion.
Work began on the upper tier in December, but there is still plenty of work remaining to be done on the lower tier at the same time.
Officially the stadium is once more following schedule, but the situation is being closely monitored. FIFA visited the ground at the end of January, and while happy with the progress, FIFA made clear that such work would need to be continued if the ground were to be ready for the World Cup.
Unfortunately, the problems do not stop there, with the post-2014 future of the ground also cause for much recent debate.
Photo taken in January 2013.
Arena Da Baixada (Curitiba)
The modernisation of the Arena da Baixada had been expected to be complete by this summer.
However, that has now been put back until November, according to local reports, which should be a much more achievable target.
While most of the blocks and sectors are in place, work on the four corners is still only 15 percent complete and will require swift action to meet even the delayed deadline.
Overall, though, work on the project has hit 55 percent, and with the development simply a modernisation, that should allow plenty of time for use ahead of the World Cup itself.
The new date for completion was announced shortly after a January inspection of the ground by FIFA and the local organising committee.