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Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã stadium "got back to doing what it has always done best" Saturday, according to columnist Ben Smith of the BBC, who covered the event. Smith commented coming into the first competitive game to be played at the new Maracanã, "some feared that something has been lost in the modernisation." However, as Italy beat Mexico 2-1 in the Confederations Cup on Sunday, the overwhelming feeling "was that while it has been reduced in size, it has been enhanced in majesty." Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo said, "To get onto the Maracana pitch is the dream of every child. To have the chance to win my 100th cap with Italy here -- I am so happy. It is a dream fulfilled." There is "an enduring aura about this new stadium." Every seat "has a perfect view, the lush green turf is smooth and slick, the seats add a dash of local colour, with rows of sky-blue above yellow, like Copacabana sand." Much "had been made of the traffic chaos that would engulf the stadium." A one-mile exclusion zone for vehicles "in the four hours before kick-off meant the traffic was almost non-existent save for those actually going to the match." The turnstiles "clicked with German efficiency, fans from all countries mixed and the experience was one that many will savour." And construction failings have "certainly heaped a degree of shame on Brazil in recent times." And yet both for the players, "who walked out onto a pitch graced by Garrincha, Pele, Zico and so many greats, it raised the hairs on the back of their necks and for the fans and the people of Rio it was a reacquaintance with an old friend" (BBC, 6/17).
After 40 years, "a golden era in Australian horseracing is set to end," according to Brendan Cormick of THE AUSTRALIAN. Saintly Place, the stable complex of trainer Bart Cummings in Melbourne's Ascot Vale, "a short canter along a street that runs behind Flemington's main grandstand, has been sold." Neighborhoods surrounding Melbourne's racetracks were once littered with stables, but now Cummings, 84, is the "last trainer in Melbourne who has stables not situated on land within the racing club's boundary." Filly Norzita, whose mission will be to deliver Cummings a sixth Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October, "will lead the final spring assault from 22 Leonard Crescent." Economic realities and the logistical problems of walking the horses along suburban streets "have convinced Cummings that leasing horse boxes from the Victoria Racing Club is more viable." Cummings' financial and corporate consultant Jack Fisher said that it was "no longer commercially viable to run Saintly Place" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/18).
Newly promoted La Liga side Villarreal's El Madrigal stadium on Monday turned 90 years old since being inaugurated. El Madrigal is one of the oldest stadiums in Spanish football and has maintained the same name and location since nearly a century ago. It is also one of a few La Liga stadiums that have hosted games for all categories of Spanish football, as well as every European club competition (EFE, 6/17). ... The process of the demolition of Bilbao Athletic's San Mamés stadium "will live a special day on Monday" as the demolition of the Main Grandstand begins, including the dismantling of the emblematic arch built in '53 (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 6/17).