By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following a 2010 series of stories detailing the World Cup cities in Brazil, it is time again to refocus on the 2014 World Cup progress, and specifically looking at the various stadium renovations. The first to review is in the state of Mato Grosso, and the Arena Pantanal, situated in the state’s capital Cuiabá.
The stadium is being built according to a traditional English model by constructors Santa Bárbara and Mendes Júnior. In accordance with the English model there will be no running track around the perimeter of the pitch.
This will leave the fans much closer to the action and increase the atmosphere significantly. Four separate stands rather than an all-encompassing bowl in the style of Rio’s Maracanã surround the pitch.
While building work has progressed, the developers have constantly kept one eye on environmental issues as well as receiving praise from FIFA on a recent visit as one of the most advanced and organized plans. The wood being used to build the arena comes only from certified sources and all waste is recycled.
The entire project will cost approximately R$342 million, a little over a third of the R$957 million being lavished on the Maracanã. The money for the Pantanal is coming from the Mato Grosso state government as well as private funding from investors.
When each stadium was allotted its games for the 2014 tournament, FIFA, world football’s governing body, decreed that the Arena Pantanal would receive four games during the competition, all during the group stages. The games will take in place in June, on the 13th, 17th, 21st and 24th.
Upon completion, the stadium will have a capacity of 42,968, all-seated to keep in line with FIFA regulations, and is situated where the city’s ancient Estadio Jose Fragelli used to sit in the Verdão (Big Green) neighborhood of the metropolis. However, once the Copa has left town, the capacity is set to be reduced to just 28,000 due to Cuiabá not being a traditional footballing stronghold.
But fortunately the stadium is being built for multipurpose. To make up for the lack of football in the area music shows, exhibitions and fairs should all be hosted at the Pantanal.
In addition shops, restaurants, hotels and a leisure park will all accompany the stadium to keep tourists from twiddling their thumbs whilst visiting the “Green City.”
Building work began in April 2010 and is on course to be finished in December of this year. Unfortunately, despite being ready in time, the Pantanal will not host Confederations Cup matches in 2013, that honor going to Rio, Belo Horizonte, Brasília and Fortaleza, with the possible use of Salvador and Recife.
Unlike several building works taking place across Brazil for the World Cup, the Pantanal is not causing any headaches. The work is half done and is still scheduled to finish on-time.
There are 650 workers working on construction at the time of writing with work advanced on all four stands, as well as one of the access tunnels already completed. As kick-off time draws closer the city of Cuiabá expects to be ready and waiting.