Brazil's $3-Billion World Cup Stadiums Are Turning Into White Elephants 6 Months Later

Brazil spent $US3.6 billion building and renovating 12 venues for the 2014 World Cup.

Despite only needing eight venues to meet FIFA regulations, the country decided to build several additional stadiums from scratch in far-flung cities that don’t need 40,000-seat soccer arenas.

Predictably, those stadiums have not justified the cost in the six months since the tournament ended.

The $US230-million Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba has been closed for emergency repairs less than a year after it opened. Officials say the region’s seasonal rains in led to roof leaks and the air conditioning broke.

According to the Associated Press, the city only has two local teams that draw between 500 and 1,000 fans per game. The stadium holds 42,000 people.

Arena pantanalAlexandre Schneider/Getty ImagesThe Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.

Before the tournament started the Arena Amazonia in Manaus was used as the prime example of World Cup waste. Manaus is a remote city in the middle of the rainforest that doesn’t have a first-division soccer team. The $US300 million arena hosted four World Cup group stage games. In mid-December, the Associated Press reported that there had been just 11 events there since the tournament ended, “four professional soccer matches, one amateur tournament, three religious events, two concerts and the celebration of the city’s anniversary.”

Manaus world cup 10REUTERS/Bruno KellyThe Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

The Estadio Nacional in the capital of Brasilia cost $US900 million to renovate. In its first year of use, it generated just $US500,000 of rental income, according to O Globo. It’d take nearly 1,000 years to pay off the cost at that rate.

National stadium brasiliaREUTERS/Ueslei MarcelinoThe Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.

There’s also the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, which now hosts birthday parties. From the AP:

The Arena Pernambuco in the northeastern city of Recife, where 236 people bought a ticket to watch a Brazilian Cup match just before the World Cup, is resorting to corporate events, conferences, fairs and wedding ceremonies. In September, A 15-year-old boy celebrated his birthday at the stadium — he and his friends were allowed to play on the field and use the changing rooms and other facilities. Last month, the arena held the local final of an American football league in front of about 7,000 fans.

Even in soccer-mad Brazil, you can’t just build a 40,000-seat stadiums in a place with no local team and expect to fill it on a regular basis.

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