World Cup 2014: Stadium-by-Stadium Update and Photos
With FIFA having identified December as the strict cut-off point for the completion of World Cup stadia, time is running out for Brazil to complete what is proving to be a major national operation.
Despite the concerns that exist, concerning preparation and execution of the pre-tournament plans, Brazilians are confident that their construction program will meet the pre-2014 target.
Great things are expected of the competition, as the world’s centrepiece occasion returns to one of the game’s traditional heartlands. The atmosphere at games is sure to be electric, particularly in matches involving the host nation, and almost certainly vuvuzela-free!
In this article, Bleacher Report checks in on their progress and assesses where there is still room for improvement among the nation's 12 chosen venues.
Sao Paulo: Arena Corinthians
My colleague Chris Atkins, writing April 17, suggested that work on the Arena Corinthians was 70 percent complete. He touched on the naming issues that surround the stadium and which have generated the most headlines; three companies are currently competing for the naming rights to the new arena.
The stadium does still require a lot of work done to it. The ambitions roof designs are yet to be totally completed, and are scheduled to be finished next month. With no responsibilities this summer, the Arena Corinthians can gently stroll towards completion in December.
The new venue will likely become a major landmark for the local area. With a capacity of 48,000, it is set to be expanded to 65,000 (with the use of removable seats) ahead of next summer’s big event.
I will be interested to see the visual and aesthetic effect of the LED screen that was recently tested on the exterior of the stadium. It is sure to make a vivid impression on those who visit.
Belo Horizonte: Mineirao
The Mineirao was opened in February when it played host to a derby clash between Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro. With a raucous atmosphere and a feverish volume, the stadium will not be troubling organisers, and looks set to be an enjoyable stage for some key World Cup clashes.
The stadium, which is the largest in Minas Gerais state, and the second-largest in the whole of the nation, is set to be a host stadium at the big three upcoming Brazilian events, the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2016 Summer Olympics and of course, the World Cup next summer.
In two days, the Selecao are set to host Chile in an international friendly, and the new Mineirao has been chosen as the venue; the stadium could take on a whole new meaning for Brazil if the side win in their first game on Brazilian soil under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Rio De Janeiro: The Maracana
Having suggested that work for the Maracana would be finished later this month, the authorities appear to have their work cut out. Recent photographs of the stadium progress suggest that there is still a long way to go before the arena is fit for purpose
According to O Globo, the new turf has already been laid—with an early, gently optimistic success rate--while the addition of seats is the only further step to be taken to complete the terraces.
The honour of playing the first game on the new pitch has been afforded to the construction workers who have worked so hard to make the 2014 venue a realistic prospect. This game has been scheduled for the April 27, and while an undoubtedly special occasion, it is unlikely to match the stadium’s attendance record—set in 1950 as Uruguay beat Brazil 2-1 when between 199,000 and 205,000 turned up for the big occasion.
We will all be able to judge the stadium’s progress June 2, as Brazil celebrate the iconic arena’s reopening by hosting England in a prestigious international friendly.
Salvador: Arena Fonte Nova
One of the venues set to be utilised for the Confederations Cup this summer, the Salvador arena is one of the success stories of the early phases of development.
There still remain some infrastructure and transport issues to resolve in Bahia state, but with over a year to go before the big occasion, the region will be unlikely to give too many headaches to the top brass in the Brazilian Federation.
The stadium is also bringing in $10,000,000 per year after the signing of a lucrative naming rights contract with Itaipava, who will enjoy the publicity brought by the World Cup.
A recent derby between Vitoria and Bahia was encouraging, despite some slight resolvable issues, and suggested that both the 56,500 capacity stadium and the surrounding area will be fitting additions to Brazil’s pantheon of WC venues.
Curitiba: Arena Da Baixada
In March it was reported that the Arena Da Baixada, in Curitiba, was on course to fail to meet the December deadline set by FIFA. Without an official expected completion date, the stadium has provided cause for concern from those responsible for the region’s World Cup contribution.
Recently, an influx of new funding—specifically a further loan from the Brazilian Development Bank—has increased the optimism, but the delay in the arrival of this cash has meant that it is by no means certain that Curitiba will be up to scratch by the time the big day arrives.
It is certainly an ambitious project, and should significant advancement be made, the arena (complete with retractable roof) could be a major asset for local side Atletico Paranaense.
Brasilia: Mane Garrincha
The stadium of the federal capital, Brasilia, was previously considered to be one of the most advanced of the nation’s World Cup stadia, however, reports suggest that the development process has encountered difficulties in the final few stages of completion.
Having originally been scheduled for opening yesterday, the ceremony was delayed due to weather—rain having delayed the introduction of the new turf.
Due to be renamed "The National Stadium of Brasilia" during the competition, the general public of the country’s Federal District will be able to examine the arena on May 18, when it plays host to the final of the Campeonato Brasiliense.
The following week it will be the unlikely venue for Santos vs. Flamengo, one of the opening games in the Brazilian championship, which is expected to attract a sell-out 72,000 crowd.
While the issue of the turf shouldn’t be fatal, the arena is due to host the opening game of this summer’s Confederations Cup, and thus it is imperative that it is perceived as a success story sooner rather than later.
Recife: Arena Pernambuco
While official lines indicate that the arena is yet to be classed as 100 percent complete, the Arena Pernambuco in Recife is one of four stadia that are already operational at this early stage.
Work still to be done includes fairly straightforward jobs—finishing touches---rather than the hardware and the major infrastructure of the arena. It is likely that work will be complete well before the official inauguration on the May 22.
Set to be one of the venues for this summer’s Confederations Cup, the 46,160-seater arena will be the hope stadium of Recife-based club Nautico Capibaribe as of July. Eventually, it will be incorporated into a wider, expansive complex including a hotel, convention centre and university campus.
While other stadia scheduled for the World Cup have construction issues ahead of the centrepiece occasion, the Castelao, or the Gigante da Boa Vista, has no such complications.
The arena was completed in December of last year—the first finished of all the proposed arenas—and has already hosted a number of fixtures following its inauguration. The opening game of the stadium’s tenure, a bout between local sides Ceara and Fortaleza, was a success, and few will be having any concerns about the stadium’s suitability for this summer’s Confederations Cup.
With a capacity of 66,700, it will be a fitting venue for World Cup clashes, even though fears have been raised about the surrounding area. In a test event for the stadium, two fans were shot dead en route to a game, a situation which must be very concerning for the organisers.
Natal: Arena Das Dunas
Fortunately, Natal’s Arena Das Dunas has managed to recover from a slow start to development to get back on track, and set to meet Brazil’s December deadline. Replacing the Machadao stadium, work is coming at an anticipated construction cost of R$ 400,000,000.
Work has increased—both in speed and focus—and the stadium is quickly taking shape, with the basic infrastructure of the arena now completed.
With a capacity of 45,000, the stadium should be set to be a local landmark following the event, with a shopping centre, hotel and artificial lake adding to the venue’s prestige and perception.
Cuiaba: Arena Pantanal
While many of the stadia uncovered in these slides are at advances stages of development, and are coming along nicely ahead of the World Cup next summer, the same cannot be said about the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.
The stadium is the white elephant in the room as far as WC planning is concerned, and the lack of press releases emerging concerning the stadium’s progress suggests that all is not well in Mato Grosso state.
The expectation is that over 43,000 will be able to enjoy the new arena, but with construction apparently slow moving and well behind schedule, it remains to be seen whether Arena Pantanal will live up to any lingering optimism that surrounds it.
It will take a major effort for the AP to be up to scratch in time for Jerome Valcke’s strict December cut-off point.
Manaus: Arena Da Amazonia
Like the aforementioned Arena Pantanal, the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus is coming along slugglishly, and is a major worry for the event organisers ahead of the 2014 World Cup. Built on the site of the Vivaldao Stadium, the arena is due to have an eventual all-seater capacity of 46,000.
Without an expected completion date or a steady flurry of progress reports, there is every reason to be concerned about the arena—which is set to host four group games. My colleague Chris Atkins indicated recently that construction was only at 58 percent completion.
Inauguration feels a long way off, and the new stadium has been beset by tragedy—a worker died in March after falling from scaffolding, and uncertain progress—work is yet to begin on the roof and metal exterior of the arena.
Porto Alegre: Beira-Rio
Replacing Indernacional’s legendary Estadio dos Eucaliptos, the Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda is likely to play a key role in Brazilian football moving forward—beginning with the World Cup next summer. The arena is named after J.P. Borda, the Portuguese engineer who supervised the construction process, but died before seeing the fruits of his endeavour.
It is likely to be referred to as Estadio Beira-Rio (the Riverside Stadium) during the World Cup, and will probably have a capacity of nearly 62,000 by the time the World Cup rolls around.
Scheduled for completion in December of this year, there is still a great deal of work to be done, but there is time enough to finish the outstanding work—particularly concerning the upper tiers and the stadium’s new roof.