By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following a 2010 series detailing the 2014 World Cup host cities in Brazil, it is time again to review the progress in Salvador, capital of the North-Eastern state of Bahia and the nation’s second most popular tourist spot behind Rio de Janeiro. Receiving a brand new stadium for the event, the Arena Fonte Nova (New Fountain), replacing the old Estadio Fonte Nova, will be used for Confederations Cup matches as well as the World Cup.
The old Estadio had not been used since November 2007 when seven fans tragically died after part of the upper tier collapsed. Bahian governor Jacques Wagner immediately closed the arena and began drawing up plans for a new ground.
The new stadium will have a 50,000 capacity and is scheduled to receive six matches in the 2014 World Cup. The city of Salvador will see four group-stage games, on June 13th, 16th, 20th and 25th, a second-round tie on July 1st and the stadium’s last participation will be in a quater-final match on July 5th.
Building works began on August 29th, 2010 with construction funded by the Bahia state government; costs are estimated at R$597 million. The architects are German firm Schulitz, whose CV includes the AWD Arena, used during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
At the time of writing, the stadium is over sixty percent complete and a scheduled deadline of December still appears probable. The building of the lower ring of seating on the two-tier bowl is finished and next month the seating will begin to be installed.
The design is strikingly similar to the traditional shape of the old stadium, in the form of a two-tiered bowl with space for seventy executive suites for VIP viewing.
Once the stadium is opened it will play a major role in Brazil’s elevated sporting status in the coming years. Not only will it be used in the Confederations and World Cups, it will host matches in the 2015 Copa America and preliminary games during the 2016 Olympics, with the main tournament then moving to Rio.
Currently playing matches at the Pituaçu Stadium local Brasileirão team Bahia will call the new ground home. However like several of the arenas under construction, the Arena Fonte Nova will have uses beyond football (soccer).
Restaurants are being built on site, as well as conference rooms for business meetings and a leisure space for families; the idea is to have the Fonte Nova open to the public 365 days a year. The stadium will also be available to hire for private functions from weddings, private parties and exhibitions along with live music shows.
In many ways the Arena Fonte Nova will become the new face of Salvador, playing host to national and international events. It is also relatively central and close to several tourist hotspots in Salvador, and just 28km from the airport.