Building Brazil's world cup dream... still
With less than six months until the kickoff of the FIFA World Cup worries are building and patience is running thin as Brazil is yet to deliver six of the 12 host city stadiums.
It only took FIFA President Sepp Blatter one week into the new year to blast Brazil's readiness, telling a Swiss newspaper that no previous host country has "been so far behind in its preparations."
President Dilma Rousseff was furious, and the next day – her first day back to work after the holiday – took to Twitter to say Brazil was prepared to host the "World Cup of all World Cup's."
Brazil is investing nearly $4bn in World Cup stadiums.
The country's basic message to FIFA has been this: "Relax fellas, we're building them, we're paying for them, they will be done soon enough."
But as FIFA officials like to say, "No stadiums, no World Cup."
This week will be crucial as Jerome Valcke, FIFA's secretary general, arrives in Brazil Monday and he'll tour the stadiums that are the most behind schedule.
On Wednesday the stadium in Natal will be inaugurated, and later in the week Rousseff will jet off to Zurich for a private sit down with Blatter.
Here are the six stadiums in Brazil still under construction, and where things stand with each:
Sao Paulo – Arena Corinthians
With the opening match of the World Cup being played here, there is a ton of pressure to get this new stadium done right. But the timeline for delivery was thrown into chaos on November 27 when a crane accident killed two workers, halting work and opening a judicial inquiry into working conditions.
Completion: They're targeting an April 15 delivery date, only about six weeks before the World Cup kicks off.
The good news: When completed it will be a spectacular facility. Readers of a Spanish football magazine voted it as the stadium design they liked the most of all 12 host cities, beating out even Rio's famed Maracana stadium.
The bad news: After it's inaugurated, there might only be enough time for one proper test match before Brazil faces Croatia on June 12.
Curitiba – Arena da Baixada
This stadium renovation project has been hampered by workers strikes and slow pace in releasing funds to complete construction.
Completion: Local officials hope to have a small 'test event' at stadium on February 26, and to declare it officially finished soon after. How 'soon' is the big question.
The good news: At a final cost of about $160m, it's the least expensive of all 12 of World Cup stadiums.
The bad news: It's coming in at about 77% over initial budget estimates, the second highest cost over-runs of any of the host cities stadiums.
Porto Alegre – Beira-Rio
The 50,000 seat renovation project badly missed the initial delivery date of August 2012. But the stadium, home to Internacional – club world champions in 2006 – is now very close to ready, local officials told me during my tour last week.
Completion: All eyes are fixated on February 28 – the delivery deadline date. There are plans for a blowout, two day inauguration for the first week in April.
The good news: The pitch was laid more than a year ago and is match-ready. The 66 roof panels will collect rainwater and recycle it for use in stadium bathrooms. And the central location of the stadium might be the best of all 12 host city venues.
The bad news: While all 66 roofing panels are in, workers just started the arduous task of installing all the translucent membranes this week.
Manaus – Arena Amazonia
Riddled with about every delay imaginable, and hampered by difficult logistics in the region. Two construction worker deaths within a one day period in December forced a local judge to order a work slowdown to ensure worker safety.
Completion: Having missed so many deadlines, and facing so many issues with heavy Amazon rainstorms, builders are staying mum. It is unlikely that it will be delivered before early March.
The good news: Centrally located stadium with easy access and it's hoping to achieve LEED certification for environmental standards.
The bad news: Over the weekend there was a close call when a hook on a crane got stuck on some roofing material, almost causing an accident. Work was briefly halted and nobody was hurt (good news), but it showed how precarious the construction is under tight deadlines. After the stadium is built, there are serious doubts this stadium can be financially viable after the World Cup.
Cuiaba – Arena Pantanal
The 42,900 seat stadium project, costing about $285m (25% more than initial cost estimates), is just one of 52 different World Cup construction projects in the city of Cuiaba.
Completion: Hoping for the first test match to be on February 16, and a grand opening in March. But the fact is, expectations on delivery date have been altered numerous times. It's just a big guessing game here.
The good news: The pitch has finally been laid. But…
The bad news: …It was laid only a few weeks ago, so still needs months to be anywhere close to match-ready.
Natal – Arena das Dunes
As of a few weeks ago the $210m dollar stadium was still missing more than 11,000 seats and had more than 1,800 workers still trying to finish it.
Completion: Wednesday, January 22, is the inauguration that will be attended by Pres. Rousseff and FIFA's Valcke with a big test match to follow on January 26.
The good news: The stadium final cost was only about 15% over initial budget estimate, ranking it in the top three of the 12 stadiums in terms of lowest cost overruns. "Absolutely gorgeous," is how USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann described the stadium after a recent visit.
The bad news: Asphalt was just laid on the parking lot last week, showing how there is still a lot of aesthetic work that needs to be completed.