Brazil’s "temple of football," the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, "stole the limelight" when it reopened last weekend despite the fact that "only two of its entrances were complete," and "some seats were still missing," according to Joe Leahy of the FINANCIAL TIMES. However, more than 2,000km to the north, the smaller and poorer seaside city of Fortaleza is "perhaps more worthy of attention." Unlike the Maracanã, which is still unfinished and behind schedule, Fortaleza is "the first of the 12 Brazilian cities that will host World Cup matches to fully refurbish its stadium." Not only that, "it has done so with no cost overruns and in the record time of about 20 months." São Paulo stadium designer Vigliecca & Associates architect Ronald Werner said, "Normally for a stadium with 60,000 seats it takes on average 36 months to build it." Fortaleza’s attractive venue, the Arena Castelão, "could set a precedent for other sporting public works," as the government prepares to host the 2016 Olympics. While the state is investing R$7.1B ($3.5B) in stadiums for the World Cup, "the huge sums have not prevented delays and excess costs." Originally, Fortaleza "also expected delays." Builders "did not get access to the existing stadium" until April '11. From there, the government, architects and construction company Galvão Enghenaria "resolved to speed things up." They "simplified the project, building it in distinct parts so that one stage would not have to wait for the other." At one point, the project "was threatened by strikes." However, the builder and government "quickly reached an agreement with unions for a pay rise." At a cost of R$519M ($258M) for nearly 64,000 seats, the project "came in within budget and cheaper per seat" than the R$808M ($401M) Maracanã (FT, 5/2).
Protesters "are pushing for a name change" at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic stadium after FIFA said this week that the man for whom the facility is named "took bribes," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. The Estadio Olimpico João Havelange in downtown Rio will serve as the host for track and field events at the Games. Havelange, FIFA president between '74 and '98, was among three former football officials "who took bribes from the organization’s now-bankrupt former marketing partner ISL," FIFA said this week. He resigned his role as FIFA’s honorary president on April 18. Rio-based National Front of Sports Fans member Gabriel Marinho said, "It’s shame for Brazil to have this name attached to the stadium. It will be a great shame if it still has this name when the Olympics start." An official at Havelange’s Rio office "declined to comment," saying that the 96-year-old "was unwell and was no longer active in an official capacity" (BLOOMBERG, 5/2).