By Anna Fitzpatrick, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – While the world waits with baited breath for a footballing spectacle and brilliant Carnival-esque party, critics are starting to wonder if the infrastructure and stadiums for the 2014 World Cup will make the mark. With investment for the Copa at an estimated US$20 billion and with twelve Brazilian cities approved to host the games, Brazil’s largest – São Paulo is working to deliver its part.
As the financial center of Brazil, preparations in São Paulo have been slow to get started. Indeed, Jerome Valcke, the Secretary General of sports governing body FIFA, criticized the progress being made in São Paulo saying the new stadium would not be ready for the 2013 Confederations Cup, a warm up to the main event.
Speaking in Russia in June, Valcke said “We don’t have stadium, we don’t have airports, we don’t have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw. In São Paulo they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready.”
Only in July was it finally confirmed that it will be Corinthians’ new stadium that will be used for São Paulo legs of the competition. Work has now started on the new building, temporarily named Feilzão, in the east of city and it is hoped that the opening game of the competition will be held here.
This will be announced in October but SP faces competition from Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Brasília.
Costing an estimated US$512 million (US$400 million of this coming from the federal coffers), the stadium will seat 68,000 fans and should be finished in February 2014.
Road works in the region near the stadium need to begin soon. Development is expected to start at the beginning 2012. The majority of work will take place around the Jacu-Pêssego area and includes building a viaduct over the railway, more walkways and working on Line 11 of CPTM and Metro Line 3. These works are essential for the transportation of fans around the city during the competition.
Other development in the city is currently underway as well. Line 4 of the metro has already been expanded as part of PAC 2 plans.
It is expected that more than R$6 billion will be spent on infrastructure with a new metro line connecting Congonhas, the city airport, to the rest of the transport network. However, there is also disappointment that the Rio-SP high speed rail link will be unfinished before the matches begin.
Airport congestion is a major worry across the country and not just because of the Copa or the Olympics. A study by the McKinsey Consulting Group reported that Brazil’s airports currently have a capacity of 126 million passengers a year, but existing demand will jump to 146 million by the time of the World Cup.
Things are complicated further by plans to privatize part of the airport management across the country, but particularly in São Paulo where the largest airport Guarulhos and Viracopos (just outside the city in Campinas) are part of the first wave of privatization.
It is reported that another passenger terminal is planned for Guarulhos, but as yet building has not started and private financing is not expected to start until April 2013. The city airport Congonhas is working towards reducing time at boarding gates in an attempt to alleviate queues, but this needs to be done quickly.