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 Manaus, based in the Northern state of Amazonas and what will be the nation’s most rural sporting stage, the Arena da Amazônia. The brand new stadium may also bring a new passion for football (soccer) to the Amazon.
Surrounded by sensitive rainforest, the stadium has been required to conform to rigorous guidelines designed to protect the idyllic landscape surrounding the ground. The location is placed between the local airport and the center of Manaus, on the site of the old Estádio Vivaldo Lima.
In close proximity to the stadium one can find numerous restaurants, hotels, banks, shopping centers and supermarkets. In addition, the famous Rio Negro (Black River) is just six kilometers away.
The stadium will have a capacity of 44,300 and will see four matches in 2014. All group-stage games, the Arena da Amazônia will see World Cup action on June 14th, 18th, 22nd and 25th.
Building works began in March 2010 with the project funded by bank loan and the Amazonas state government with costs estimated at R$532 million. The work is being done by the construction firm Andrade Gutierrez (AG), who are involved in a number of stadium building and renovation projects connected to the World Cup.
While building works have suffered some delays, mainly due to a tardy bank loan, none have been crippling to progress. The ground should be completed by June 2013, not in time to be used during the Confederations Cup, but with a full twelve months ahead of the star attraction.
The new stadium shape bears resemblance to the vast majority of World Cup stadiums; a two-tiered bowl with retractable roof for rainy season. As of the end of September work is over half done with no more delays in sight.
Standing almost in isolation, the capital of Amazonas is not used to hosting grand events. As a result, it is as yet unknown what role Manaus and its new arena will play in future sports tournaments that are heading to Brazil over the next few years.
There are no major football teams in the area plying their trade at the top national level and it is more likely the Amazonas state government will look for uses beyond sport once the World Cup has left Brazil. For now however, the city is focused solely on getting the stadium ready for football’s most prestigious prize. Despite being a city with a relatively small involvement, the Arena da Amazônia is truly state-of-the-art.