Tug-of-war over Maracana

2013-04-11 22:01
Maracana Stadium (AFP)

Rio de Janeiro - Two consortiums are competing for the 35-year operation of Rio's iconic Maracana stadium, the venue for the final of the 2014 World Cup, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2016 summer Olympics, officials said Thursday.

Maracana SA and the Rio Sporting and Cultural Complex Consortium can take part in the bidding, at a date which has yet to be fixed, a state government spokesperson told AFP.

Maracana SA is made up of Brazilian firms Odebrecht Participacoes, IMX Venues e Arenas owned by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista and AEG Administracao de Estadios do Brasil Ltda.

Rio Sporting and Cultral Complex Consortium groups Brazilian OAS S/A, Dutch Stadion Amsterdam NV and French Lagardere Unlimited.

A total of 21 companies had taken part in technical visits of the stadium but only the two consortiums put in bids, the spokesperson said.

The winner must invest $300m to upgrade the area around the arena and pay the state government $2.25m per year over 35 years.

But it can be guaranteed net profits of $715m over 35 years, according to a study made for the bidding process.

The renovation will convert Maracana into a multi-purpose arena featuring bars, restaurants and shops. It also involves the demolition of a former indigenous museum and some athletic facilities near the arena.

Since 2007, the Rio state government has invested $615m in Maracana, one of the world's great soccer arenas.

Built for the 1950 World Cup, it is undergoing extensive renovation at a cost of $430m to host four Confederations Cup matches in June as well as seven World Cup games next year, including the finals of both tournaments.

It was at Maracana that Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay before a stunned capacity crowd of 200 000.

When the temple of Brazilian football is fully upgraded, it will have a capacity of 83 000, making it the largest in Brazil and South America.

It is to be delivered to world's governing body FIFA on April 27, the last of the six host stadiums being readied for the Confederations Cup which takes place in June.

Thursday's bidding took place only hours after a local court rejected an appeal filed late Wednesday to block the process.

Court President Leila Mariano "rejected an appeal which had suspended the tender process for the rights to operate the Maracana complex," authorities said.

Prosecutors had denounced a "lack of fairness" in the terms offered to the bidders as Batista's IMX conducted a study that serves as a basis for the bidding.

The plan to privatise the Maracama complex and its surroundings has raised the ire of residents and indigenous people who were displaced in March from a historic area building where they have lived since 2006.

The former indigenous museum which had been slated for demolition was instead classed as a historical landmark.

Thursday, 300 people rallied outside the Rio state government building to protest the Maracana privatisation.

They waved banners proclaiming "Maracana is ours" or "Out with (Sergio) Cabral," the name of Rio state governor.

Read more on:    swc 2014  |  olympics 2016  |  soccer

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