By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Northeastern metropolis of Salvador is facing a battle against the clock as delays hamper recent progress. The city’s Arena Fonte Nova, originally scheduled for a delivery date of December 31st, is now expected to be ready on February 28th, barring any more delays.
After being inspected by FIFA the stadium will then officially be opened on March 29th, the city’s birthday. The inauguration of the brand new arena will serve as a gift to the entire city and its inhabitants.
The agenda of the event to mark the celebration has not yet been defined. A live music show is the likely choice, as happened in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte, in front of a packed out stadium. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to also attend the occasion.
Then just two days after the stadium opening, Salvador’s football (soccer) fans should see the ball rolling for the first time. On March 31st, Bahia and Vitoria meet in the Bahian state championship in a classico encounter likely to be a sell-out.
At the time of writing, the stadium stands ninety percent complete and the finish line is within sight. The main work that remains to be carried out is the laying of the grass turf and installation of the drainage system. Workers at the Fonte Nova are being pushed to ensure the site is ready in time as construction is carried out 22 hours a day.
During the Confederations Cup, the stadium is due to receive three matches. The Seleção Brasileira will grace the pitch when they play Italy in the Group Stages. Copa America champions Uruguay will meet the African representatives, yet to be decided, also in the first stage. Also the tournament’s third placed play-off will be held at the Fonte Nova for an appreciative Salvador crowd.
On Tuesday, January 15th, the stadium will undergo another FIFA inspection. Subsequently, the next two months will see tests to the security system and electronic installations take place. Finally the roof over the terraces will be finished.
The roof has already started to be placed over the stadium with 75 men are working on the cover which should be completed by the end of this month. With the majority of seats on the lower ring having already been installed, seating on the upper level can commence shortly.
The stadium is set to have a 55,000 capacity, meaning around 30,000 are yet to be put in place. All seating should be installed by mid-February. However this part of the project, along with the laying of the pitch, had originally been slated for October 2012 but only began in December.
With the stadium so near to completion it is hoped and expected nothing else will stand in the way of the Fonte Nova’s completion by the end of February. The use of the stadium prior to the Confederations Cup in important state games is positive and exciting news for everyone connected with Salvador.