By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While some World Cup host cities struggle to meet deadlines imposed by president Dilma Rousseff, Rio’s own Maracanã Stadium is right on schedule. But while the building and modernization work remains on track, the costs have accelerated by almost 40 percent in just eight months to almost R$1 billion.
Initially projected at R$705 million last year, it is now estimated the final bill will come to around R$957 million for the stadium that will host the 2014 World Cup final as constant additions and readjustments are made.
The completed soccer arena will include four new access passages, broadened to allow more people to exit the stadium at one time with the intention that it will take everyone just eight minutes to be back out on the street after a match.
If this proves to be the case, it will be a vast improvement; before, if the stadium was sold-out or close to full capacity, it could take up to half an hour for 80,000 fans to leave.
In contrast to the old stadium, where for some supporters the players looked like miniature dolls, the front rows of seats will be just twelve meters from the playing field. The updated project was presented last week in Brasilia to the Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU), who will analyses the updates in the next 45 days.
In total, the stadium will be able to hold 78,639 fans. To increase safety, there will also be 314 CCTV cameras and 360 television monitors. Despite costs escalating at such an alarming rate, Luiz Fernando Pezão, vice governor of Rio de Janeiro, guaranteed the R$1 billion mark would not be exceeded.
“The price will not surpass R$1 billion. We are still trying to lower it a little. We are negotiating with a lot of people on this quotation,” Pezão said. The deputy also guaranteed that all work would be finished by December 2012 while boldly claiming the Maracanã will be better than Wembley, London’s famous football stadium, at a fraction of the cost.
Jose Carlos Rocha, a Carioca, is delighted the Maracana will be modernized. “The Maracana will soon be one of the best stadiums in the world. Alongside the Bombonera (in Buenos Aires), the Camp Nou (in Barcelona) and Wembey, these are the four most famous stadiums and deserve to be recognized.”
For Cariocas and tourists alike, the Maracana is an icon of the city, just as much as Pao d’Acucar (Sugarloaf) and Cristo Redemptor (Christ the Redeemer). It is a shrine to world football, having already hosted one World Cup final previously; the infamous defeat Brazil suffered at the hands of Uruguay in 1950.
While Rio’s project remains on track, problems in other cities, especially Sao Paulo continue to rumble on. Having finalized plans for the construction of a new stadium, to be called the Fielzao and situated in the West Zone of the city, work will not start this week as planned. Corinthians, who will use the stadium after the World Cup, posted a message on their official website saying work would begin “soon”.