By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Almost R$400 million of public money was spent by local authorities in 2018 to maintain stadiums throughout Brazil that were originally built for the World Cup in 2014, a new report shows.
According to data collected by Ministry of Sport and reported by O Globo, R$8.3 billion was spent on the construction of stadiums for the Brazilian World Cup, with much of the money coming from BNDES ‘Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social’ (National Bank for Economic and Social Development).
Due to the complex financing and ‘Public Private Partnerships’ that some state governments embarked upon, many are still paying back more than R$100 million annually as a result of loans taken out in 2014, such as those for the stadium Mineirão, considered to be one of the more successful constructions.
For example, the authorities responsible for the 31,000 capacity Arena das Dunas in Natal have to pay back an annual repayment of R$120 million to finance a stadium that hosts around 4,000 fans for home games of football club América de Natal, who were recently eliminated from Série D, Brazil’s fourth division.
Other such ‘white elephants’ include the Mané Garrincha, in Brasília, which cost R$700,000 per month in 2018; the Pantanal Arena in Mato Grosso, which lost around R$3 million in 2018 and also hosts another domestic minnow, Cuiabá, this year promoted to Brazil’s second division, Série B.
Allegations of corruption and misallocation of funds have surrounded many of the construction projects that were embarked upon for the successive mega-events of the World Cup and Rio Olympics, and this doesn’t just apply to newly built structures. Two years ago, Odebrecht executives revealed how they paid a stunning R$2.3 million in bribes in order to secure the renovation contract for Rio’s iconic Maracanã stadium.
Since 2013, the stadium has also totaled losses of about R$200 million, with a judge canceling a ‘harmful’ private-public concession agreement last year. As with many of the other stadiums hemorrhaging public funds, the Maracanã has turned to hosting concerts and other events, in a bid to diversify its utility.
As President-elect of Flamengo, Rodolfo Landim, comments to goal.com, “Flamengo wants to have a stake in the management of Maracanã, because Flamengo understands that the Maracanã will not be able to support itself alone. I talked to the governor-elect and he is very willing to help Flamengo.”