By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Work is set to begin on what will be the crowning glory of the renovated Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro. A brand new “grandstand,” similar to that seen at the Estadio Bernabéu in Madrid, will be the largest feature of the updated stadium and in compliance with FIFA’s “visibility requirements.”
The new stand will hold over a third of the ground’s attendance capacity and will be raised higher than the rest of the seats to give fans a privileged view. The tickets for this part of the ground will be the most expensive.
The building work is now fully underway, but the concrete mixers have not deterred ardent football (soccer) fans from making the pilgrimage to one of the game’s iconic landmarks.
Sports Secretary Marcia Lins has opted not to close the stadium to visitors while work takes place, enabling people to get a first-hand look at how the stadium is being pieced together.
In the last year, over 180,000 people have visited the arena, however the last month access has been limited. With the grandstand being put in place, entry to the changing rooms, graced by so many legends of the game, has been cut off. Now visitors are restricted to walking around the stadium and the demolished old stands.
Swiss tourist Andreas Kind told Brazilian daily O Globo: “I wanted to walk from the dressing room to the goal on the pitch. But now most of the stadium is gone. It’s too bad.”
Destruction of the inner circle of seats, namely those on the lower tier, was concluded this week as the LOC (Local Organizing Committee), for the 2014 World Cup released the latest photos of the Maracanã renovation project to Rio’s press.
The work is making sure and steady progress. According to the LOC timetable, the development is still scheduled to be finished by the end of 2012, ready for use in the Campeanato Carioca, which kicks off in January 2013. Already the stage of one World Cup final in 1950, the stadium is set to receive the honor for a second time, as Brazil’s centerpiece for 2014.
The World Cup Final is not the sole reason that Maracanã is being refurbished. Just two short years after hosting the final of sport’s biggest competition, the new stadium will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of sport’s oldest competition – the 2016 Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the next stage on the Olympic journey is promoting the official 2016 logo. The design, chosen from a shortlist of eight, will be unveiled for the first time in a few days at the city’s New Year celebrations at Copacabana. Around two million people are expected to attend.
Carlos Nuzman, organizing president of Rio 2016, said: “The preferred design has been sent to the International Olympic Committee for approval. We’re sure everyone will like it.”