By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Football (soccer) is by far the most important sport in Brazil and the Maracanã Stadium is one of Rio’s most important landmarks. Recently reopened after renovations the experience of going to see a match has never been easier and more exciting.
The Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, as the Maracanã is officially called, is currently hosting matches of the Confederations Cup (including the final on Sunday, June 30th) and preparing for the World Cup in 2014.
It has also been promised by Rio state secretary Régis Fichtner that even under any new concessionary, local club matches will return to the stadium after the Cup.
The Maracanã is traditionally home to some of Brazil’s most popular teams, Flamengo and Fluminense, but will also host clássicos of both Vasco and Botafogo. As the Brazilian national championship has just started, there will plenty of opportunities to cheer on a game in the upcoming months.
The arena has always been popular among Cariocas. “I like the Maracanã, because it is part of the city’s history and it was the stage of great emotions, not only for sports, but also music, as it has received many great international artists. And after the renovations, it has become beautiful! Just entering the stadium is already touching,” Carol Cavalcante, a Rio student, told The Rio Times.
Going to a game from Zona Sul (South Zone) is easiest by taking the metro Line 2 in direction of Pavuna. During the week and on Confederations Cup match days the line operates from Botafogo to Pavuna and can be taken at any stop in between. On weekends transfers from Line 1 have to be made at the Estácio stop.
Access to the stadium has been improved dramatically since the renovations, as the stadium has been divided into four color sections, which are displayed on tickets and correspond to different access routes and metro stations to the stadium.
The blue section A in the west and the yellow section, comprising portals B and C, in the south are most easily accessed by getting off at Line 1 “Maracanã” station itself. From there, a gangway from the station leads directly to the stadium and the entrances.
The green section in the north is best accessed by leaving the metro Line 1 one station earlier at “São Cristóvão”. From there, a short walk leads to entrance portals E and F. To enter the red section in the east of the stadium or portal D it is recommended to stay on metro Line 2 and get off at “São Francisco Xavier”.
“Going to the stadium is very easy; there have been many changes in public transport to make that possible. It is very well signaled, simplifying the entrance when watching a game. The stadium is also very beautiful. It is the face of Brazil,” Melissa Coura, another Rio student explained.
Inside the stadium there are ramps that lead to the different levels of the stadium and its corresponding sectors, which are all well labeled. In the inside passages on all levels, fans will find food stalls and bathrooms and the several gateways to their seats in the corresponding sector.
When purpose-built for Brazil’s hosting of the 1950 World Cup, the Maracanã was the world’s largest stadium, with capacity for 200,000 spectators, but this has been reduced to just under 80,000 now for safety concerns. While few fans can squeeze in, certainly is has become more comfortable and better organized for locals and visitors alike.