As always, the host country for the World Cup spreads the venues of the stadiums throughout the country. Brazil selected 12 cities to play host to World Cup matches, with Rio de Janeiro set to host the Final. These 12 cities were picked to highlight the various regions in Brazil’s 26 States. However, each stadium provided a new challenge for construction.
Without a doubt the most difficult construction plan came from the Estadio Amazonia in Manaus, the capital city of the northern State of Amazonas. For those not savvy on their Portuguese-to-English translation, “Amazonia” refers to the stadium’s location in the Amazon rainforest. The chosen location in Manaus is nearly impossible to reach by vehicle, so all supplies were either brought in by boat up the Amazon River or flown in by plane.
As most would expect, this location raises many questions. The first that comes to mind is: Why? The plans called for an elaborate design that required much of the material to be imported from Portugal. This stadium must come with a huge price tag, and it does! It cost nearly $300 million in the end, according to a recent CNN article. All of this for a stadium that is only hosting 4 matches.
The next major question to ask is: What team will use the field after the completion of the World Cup? A quick scan of the Brazilian professional soccer ranks shows that no major clubs play in the area. The biggest local team draws only a few hundred fans. The stadium capacity is more than 42,000.
One final concern of the choice of venue is the temperature and humidity levels of Manaus. As may be expected in the Amazon rainforest, the weather will be hot and sticky. Most coaches hoped to avoid this unlucky draw, but 8 teams will play in Manaus over the course of group play.
The first match played in this arena was on June 14th between Italy and England. Just three days out from the match the stadium was not finished. Pictures surfaced of a field that can be described as patchy, at best. To make matters worse, groundskeepers were seen spray painting the field green following the surfacing of these pictures.
As expected with a match played by two European teams in such hot and sticky weather, many of the players on both sides cramped up during the match. It was clear that as the match dragged on, the climate took its toll on the players. The temperature and humidity are sure to play a role in the outcome of the three remaining games in Manaus. (Cameroon v. Croatia on June 18th; US v. Portugal on June 22nd; Honduras v. Switzerland on June 25th)
The Brazilian government has said that there is a plan in place for the Estadio Amazonia after the World Cup is finished, but we have reason to be skeptical. Not long ago we heard a similar story for the Olympic venue of the Beijing National Stadium, commonly referred to as the “Bird’s Nest.” The only regularly scheduled events for the Bird’s Nest today are its $20 Segway race track for tourists. Let’s hope that the Brazilian government has made more of a long-term plan.