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SBD Global/September 26, 2013/Facilities

Ambitious Plan To Build World Cup Stadium In Middle Of Amazon Facing Several Hurdles

Even though the World Cup "has never staged games in a rain forest, much less in the middle of the Amazon," that "is the plan for next summer," according to Sam Borden of the N.Y. TIMES. It is "an ambition that invites plenty of hurdles." What other major stadium project had to drain an “unwelcome tributary of the French River,” as project coordinator Miguel Capobiango Neto put it, "that ran through its foundation?" What other builder "has to spend multiple days on each joint that is soldered because the stifling humidity can cause steel to buckle?" What other job "has to accommodate one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in the world?" Then, "there are the concerns about how many more millions will be spent on cost overruns, not to mention what will happen to the stadium once the four World Cup games scheduled to be played here next year are completed." Despite having as many as 1,400 employees, the project "has been bogged down by the delays, cost increases and design changes that come with seemingly every significant piece of Brazilian infrastructure." German stadium designer gmp-Architekten CEO Hubert Nienhoff said although the “precise planning and implementation that Germans are credited with” might be respected in Brazil, they are “not always compatible with the existing pragmatic day-to-day business” in the country. The stadium "was supposed to cost" about 500M reais ($227M) and "be completed by July." Now, the stadium will cost at least 600M reais ($271M) and "is scheduled to be finished by December." Of course, there are some who believe the four World Cup games set for Manaus "should not be played here anyway." Former Brazilian national team player and Brazilian Congress member Romário said, "The stadiums in Manaus, Cuiaba and Natal -- they are absurd. There will be a couple games there and then what? Who will go? It is an absolute waste of time and money" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/24).

A 'NOVEL IDEA': The AP's Stephen Wade reported the stadium "may not become a white elephant after all." Amazonas state court system spokesperson Alvaro Corado said that Judge Sabino Marques "had proposed a novel idea." Quoting Marques, Corado said, "He would, perhaps, suggest to the government of the state of Amazonas that the stadium be used as a processing center for prisoners after the World Cup." Marques is "also the president of a group that monitors the prison system in the state" (AP, 9/24).
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