The most important Brazilian football venue will reopen its gates this Saturday (27.04). After two years and eight months of refurbishment work, at 7:00pm the Maracanã will host a match between friends of former footballers Ronaldo and Bebeto. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, the Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo, the Rio de Janeiro State Governor Sergio Cabral and the Mayor of the city Eduadro Paes, are some of the authorities that will attend the event.
Thirty per cent of the 78,838 seater stadium will be used in this first test. The crowd will be made up of around eight thousand builders who worked at the stadium, in addition to their relatives and guests.
Thirty-two players and former players have been confirmed for the match, among them nine Brazilian World Cup winners. In addition to the two hosts, Ronaldo and Bebeto, 1994 World Cup winners Aldair, Zetti, Jorginho, Mauro Silva and Ricardo Rocha will also play. From the 2002 World Cup winning team, as well as Ronaldo, Edilson has also confirmed he will take part.
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The second test planned for the Maracanã will be on 15 May, with the match yet having to be announced, but this time with 50% of the stadium full. On 2 June, this time at full capacity, the event will be a friendly between Brazil and England. The matches will be used to verify details of the venue, so that it is in perfect condition to host three matches of the 2013 Confederations Cup, tournament that will take place between 15 and 30 June.
The venue will be the stage of two group matches: Mexico and Italy, on 16 June and Spain and Tahiti on the 20th. Then, it will be time for the final, scheduled for 30 June.
The Maracanã will also be the stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, on 13 July. The stadium will go down in history as the second to host two finals. The first was the Azteca stadium in Mexico, stage of the 1970 and 1986 finals. In the case of the Maracanã, the first final was in 1950, when Uruguay beat Brazil. The venue will be the stage of another six World Cup matches: four in the group stage, one in the round of 16 and a quarter-final.
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The fan that goes to Maracanã will see a totally refurbished stadium. From the traditional structure, only the façade remains, as it is inscribed in the list of cultural heritage by the National Artistic and Historical Heritage Institute. With a built area of 124 thousand square metres (it used to be 112 thousand m²), the renovation work prioritised comfort and safety. The access to the venue’s five levels may be done using 17 lifts, eight of them panoramic, 12 escalators and six ramps.
The four types of seats are coloured in shades of yellow, blue and white. As they are spread out throughout the stadium, they provide a moving effect. There will be four big 98m² screens. The venue’s PA system has 78 speakers, divided in 26 sets of threes, all fixed onto the structure that supports the roof. Eight of these sets are turned towards the pitch and the others towards the stands.
The VIP area has air conditioned boxes, furnished, with private lavatories, 10 thousand premium seats reserved in the stands, as well as a lounge and exclusive catering services. The Maracanã has 292 toilets and 60 bars and snack bars.
For night time events, 396 two thousand watts reflectors were installed. For the press, eight TV studios were built on the level of the stands and another four on the same level as the changing rooms.
The grass species used for the pitch was the Bermuda Celebration, which has thinner leaves and allows the ball to roll faster, without bumps. The size of the pitch was reduced and it is now 105m by 68m. In addition, a new drainage system was built, doubling the outflow capacity.
The four changing rooms, which are equipped with baths and showers, were raised and are now above pitch level. The players will feel the crowd closer to them.
The stands are more tilted. The first row is 14 metres away from the pitch.
Another innovation was the stadium's roof. Made up of a structure with prestressed cables, lifted using a process known as the big lift, the roof was covered by a see-through, self-cleaning membrane, which allows for uniform lighting conditions, even in the stands’ upper rings.
The new roof also collects rainwater so that it may be reused in the toilets. This was done to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate requirements, awarded to buildings that have a high environmental and energy performance that comply with international standards. The total invested in the Maracanã’s refurbishment was of R$ 808.4 million, R$ 400 million of which from federal financing.
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In addition to the Maracanã, another four Confederations Cup stadiums are already being assessed by the Local Organising Committee: the Castelão in Fortaleza; the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte; the Fonte Nova in Salvador; and the Pernambuco Arena in Recife. According to the government of the Federal District, the National Stadium in Brasilia, which will be the stage of the Confederations Cup opening match, shall be delivered on 18 May. The other six 2014 FIFA World Cup stadiums shall be finished by the end of 2013.