By Mira Olson, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANIERO – Preparations to receive millions of tourists during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games are already well underway in order to present visitors with a safer, cleaner and more modern Rio.
Much of the construction underway is unrelated to the execution of the World Cup and Olympic games but serve to improve Rio’s image. The municipal government, for example, has recently announced new efforts to repopulate the historic downtown areas near the port and Cinelândia.
In terms of culture, construction on the Museu da Imagem e do Som (Museum of Image and Sound) began in February 2010 on Avenida Atlântica in Copacabana, in the block formerly occupied by the nightclub Help. The joint project of the State Secretary of Culture and the Roberto Marinho Foundation is scheduled to open mid-2012.
In terms of transportation and roadways, government spending is expected to exceed R$7 billion. This includes expansion of the metro to Barra (estimated R$4 billion), which is scheduled to open by 2016. It also includes the implementation of the High Capacity Transportation Ring, which will connect the metro and renovated trains with new “Bus Rapid Transit” options, or roads for the exclusive use of buses.
The TransCarioca (T5) will connect the North Zone with Barra da Tijuca and will represent 28 kilometers of new road. For air travel, Infraero has pledged to invest R$1.15 billion to help with the plans to increase the passenger capacity of Rio’s International Airport (Galeão) to 25 million passengers per year.
A complete renovation of the Maracanã stadium, the stage for the World Cup final, and its surrounding areas is also in the making. The stadium is scheduled to close in September 2010, only to reopen to the public in December 2012 and the estimated R$500 million cost is necessary in order to meet FIFA regulations.
The João Harelage (Engenhão) Stadium will be amplified to increase capacity from its current level of 45,000 to 60,000, and once again the area immediately surrounding the stadium will also be improved. The neighborhoods along the Sambódromo will also receive a makeover in conjunction with the renovation of the Carnival samba parade grounds themselves, which will host Olympic archery and serve as the start and finish point of the marathon.
Many projects will be specifically built for the Olympics. The Vila dos Atletas (Athletes Village) and the television and press centers will be built in Barra da Tijuca. The Olympic Training Center will be built alongside the Village and will continue to be used as such after the Olympics. The Vila Olímpica (Olympic Village) and Paraolímpica, which will serve as dormitories for athletes, will be built alongside the Lagoa de Jacarepaguá, next to the Olympic Park and Riocentro.
Following the games, this private initiative will be converted into residential condominiums. Finally, the Parque Radical (X Park), which will host extreme sports such as cycling and mountain biking, will be constructed in Deodoro and will become the Carioca Center for Extreme Sports.
The Olympic games alone are expected to benefit nearly 55 of the State’s economic sectors, of which the construction sector is the most targeted for investment. After Rio was announced as the host for the 2016 games in late 2009, some reports indicate the market experienced a fifty percent appreciation in value of industrial, commercial and residential real estate.