FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke yesterday visited Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to "begin FIFA's first inspection tour of the year" in advance of June's World Cup, according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Valcke will "visit three other host cities before meeting with local organizers in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday." Local authorities said that the stadium is 97% "completed, with nearly 30,000 of the nearly 70,000 seats already installed." Azzoni noted the stadium is "not expected to be ready until mid-April, about two months" before the event. Valcke said, "In a way I would say the pressure is a little bit bigger here. It's the first game. It has to be a success. The world will be watching." Valcke said that he was "satisfied with the work at the venue and expects there will be enough time for test events after its completion in April." The Itaquerao "made headlines in November after a crane collapsed while hoisting a 500-ton roofing structure," killing two workers and "causing significant construction delays." The venue was "among the six that missed the December deadline established by FIFA for all World Cup stadiums" (AP, 1/20).
Preliminary work "has already begun ... just a couple of blocks west" of Amway Center on the new Populous-designed stadium for Orlando City SC, which will be ready for the club's debut MLS season in '15, according to John Brown of Orlando-based WOFL-Fox. No new designs of the stadium have been released, but Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the stadium will be "a 'U'-shaped bowl with a little extension." He added, "It will be open to Church Street. So you know how soccer fans like to tailgate in bars beforehand and then march en masse? We're creating a gathering spot right on Church Street where you can see right into the stadium." Orlando City SC Owner & President Phil Rawlins said Populous has a "great track record of success with soccer stadiums." Brown added the Citrus Bowl is also getting a "major makeover ... that will have this old stadium looking brand-new." Brown: "That means this entire sports district is actually going to be a short walk end-to-end" (MYFOXORLANDO.com, 1/19).