Inspired by Natal’s landscape (capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil’s northeast region), the Dunas Arena is ready to host the four World Cup matches scheduled to take place at the venue. The stadium will be officially delivered this Wednesday (22.01), with the ceremony starting at 04:00pm (local time). President Dilma Rousseff, the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Sport Luis Fernandes and Rio Grande do Norte State Governor Rosalba Ciarlini will attend the ceremony. The first kick-off at the stadium will take place on the following Sunday (26.01), when the state's main teams face other. It will be a double round, with América-RN facing Confiança-SE in a Northeast Cup match, and ABC playing Alecrim in the Rio Grande do Norte State Championship.
ABC and América have closed a deal with the Dunas Arenas consortium, which will manage the stadium for the next 20 years, to use the venue for their home games. Designed to be a multi-purpose venue, the arena is able to cater for trade shows and concerts in its internal area, or at the 22 thousand square metres square located in front of the entrance, on Prudente de Moraes Avenue. The area will enable the staging of events off the pitch, thus, preserving it.
“The boxes may be open all day. The arena is in the city centre and after the World Cup, we can set up a commercial area between the access ways. In addition, we have an area where events and concerts may be held. In fact, we've got trade shows scheduled to take place in 2014 and part of the indoor car park will be used for assembling the stalls. Since the beginning, the area was designed as a multi-purpose venue, so it may be used all year round. Our goal is to make it profitable. The two main football clubs of the state, América and ABC, have signed a contract with us, and we have already arranged a certain number of matches", detailed Charles Maia, Dunas Arena Director.
The new arena is the result of 29 months of construction works. The project began by demolishing the old stadium João Claudio de Vasconcelos Machado - the 'Machadão' -, officially opened in 1972, which took up part of the area where the venue was built. Approximately 4,500 workers were involved in the project, helping to build the ground, which has a seating capacity for 42 thousand people (with 10.6 thousand removable seats). Investments in the project totalled R$ 400 million, R$ 396.5 million of which from federal financing.
Petal shaped modules
The arena’s conception gave the project a unique aspect. The façade and roof are integrated and made up of 20 petal shaped modules, designed to be higher on one of the stadium's side, giving the impression that sand dunes - common in the region - are moving. The design also allows for more ventilation and light to come into the stadium.
The petal shaped structure of the roof are made of steel trusses, covered on the outside with aluminium tiles, with thermal and acoustic insulation. Internally, they are coated with a PVC prestressed membrane. The parts are joined by see-through polycarbonate, which allows light to come through.
Another role of the Dunas Arena’s roof is to capture rainwater. Gutters collect the water and take it to nine tanks below the lower stand. Therefore, up to 3,000 m³ may be reused in the lavatories and for irrigating the pitch.
Comfort and safety
Fans going to matches and events at the stadium will notice a new standard of comfort and safety, which has started to be seen in the country with the new grounds. In all, there are 21 access ramps for people to get to one of the four levels of the venue, in addition to lifts that connect the indoor car park directly with the 39 boxes. The Dunas Arena also has four lounges with capacity from 250 to 1 thousand people, 25 food and drink kiosks, as well as 30 lavatories.
There are four types of seats, in different tones of blue: for the general public, hospitality, VIP and Very VIP. All retractable and with backrest. The difference between them is that in some sectors, the seats have armrests, foamed upholstery and cup holders. In addition, 521 seats are reserved for people with disabilities.
“The arena is accessible at all levels, with ramps and lifts, from the box office to the changing rooms. In the boxes and the stadium’s surrounding area there are accessible lavatories, spread out to cater for everyone. There is a directional tactile floor from the external gate to the stand”, pointed out Charles Maia.
Safety will be coordinated by a team in the arena’s command and control centre, set up in an over 80m² room, using equipment that allows for the monitoring of the images recorded by the 200 cameras, which has facial recognition capability in the ground’s external and internal areas. The PA system is integrated to the stadium’s two 64m² screens, allowing for information and match statistics to be clearly displayed to the crowd.
Players will also notice the improved match conditions. They will have changing rooms with bathtubs, showers, toilets and a warming up room, completely available to them, in addition to a pitch in perfect conditions for playing football. The Bermuda Tifton 419, species used for the pitch, is very much appropriate for the region's hot climate. The drainage system allows for matches to be played even on very rainy days.
With the first row of stands only 15 metres away from the pitch, players will be able to feel the reaction of supporters closer. In addition, the lighting system, which uses 306 floodlights, provides uniform and consistent visibility, eliminating shadows and thus, facilitating TV broadcasting using the Full HD technology.
The Dunas Arena will be the stage of four group stage matches at the World Cup. The first match to be held at the stadium will be Mexico and Cameroon - Group A game -, on 13 June. The second game will see Ghana take on the United States – Group G – on 16 June. The next match will see Japan and Greece take to the pitch in Group C, on 19 June. Lastly, Natal bids farewell to the World Cup with an international derby, which will see nothing short of six world titles on the pitch. Four-time World Cup winners Italy taken on two-time champions Uruguay. The match will be in the third and last round of Group D, the so-called ‘Group of Death’, which also has England and Costa Rica.