The Joaquim Américo Guimarães Stadium, commonly known as Baixada Arena is ready to be the stage four 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage matches. The stadium is located at a privileged spot: in the Água Verde area, in the extended city centre of Curitiba, area with plenty of public transport and parking options. It is also near the area where most hotels in Curitiba are located, 18 km away from the International Afonso Pena Airport.
In around a year and a half of renovation works, 5,532 workers have been employed by the project, with 1,600 builders labouring away when at the height of building activities. According to Atlético Paranense Football Club, total investments reached R$ 369 million, R$ 247.5 million of which as financing from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES).
The renovated stadium is a 43 thousand seater ground. The ground's façade is almost see-through, which means that people outside of the Baixada Arena may be able to look inside. The promenade at the front spans over 6 thousand m² and facilitates urban integration, as well as reinforcing the ground’s multi-purpose goal, as it has been designed to play host to several events, in addition to football matches.
“A multi-purpose arena, with a retractable roof in the future, able to host concerts and other events, as well as other sport competitions like basketball, volleyball and tennis. It is a contemporary arena, where lighting and fan’s colours will shine through to those who are outside”, explained the architect in charge of the ground Carlos Arcos.
The pitch at the Baixada Arena meets FIFA standards (105m by 68m). However, what stands out the most is the distance between the pitch and the stands: 7.60,m behind the goalposts and 6.10m from the sidelines, allowing fans to be closer to the pitch. The old stadium’s blind spots have been eliminated, task considered to be the project's most difficult.
Curitiba’s weather conditions – low temperatures in winter and hot days in the summer - have led to the Bermuda Tifgrand species being chosen to be used for the pitch, which provides consistent lighting when combined with Ryegrass.
“The pitch was laid down in already matured and shaped blocks. This reduces the number of links, which allows for fast use and ensure a longer useful life to the pitch", explained Arco.
An automated irrigation system was designed and put into the pitch. The old ditch between the pitch and stands was covered up and will be used as a water tank (cistern), which will reuse rainwater for irrigating the pitch, holding a million litres of water.
Access and seats
Around 70% of the general audience will have access to the stadium through Buenos Aires Road and Afonso Botelho Square, where the front promenade is located. The other 30% will go in through Coronel Dulcídio Road, where there is another promenade. Those going to the VIP areas during the World Cup will have to use Basílio Itiberê Road.
Out of the stadium’s 43 thousand seats, 23 thousand are retractable, 17 thousand use just the one block and the 3 thousand VIP seats and retractable, as well as upholstered. There are 212 seats put aside for wheelchair users, 46 for visually impaired people, 88 for people with reduced mobility and 88 for obese individuals. The stadium has specific signs, with tactile directional floor, pointing out steps, among other things.
The 35 boxes cater for between 12 and 24 people and offer food related services, their own lounge, exclusive parking spaces and lifts.
In addition, the Baixada Arena has two underground parking levels, with 884 indoor spaces. There are 48 kiosks and four restaurants for food. From the 155 lavatories, 20 are set aside for people with disabilities.
Safety, lights and PA system
For lighting the pitch 308 floodlights are used, in addition to internal stage lighting on the roof. The stadium has two 77m² screens behind each goalpost. The PA system uses 24 clusters with 77 speakers each for the stands and approximately 1,500 speakers for the PA systems in the stadium’s internal area.
Security control relies on 190 cameras spread throughout the outside and inside part of the Baixada Arena. The Operations Control Centre works in a 210m² area and is located at the stadium's highest level (P6). Indeed, several security bodies will work together at the centre. The stadium’s average evacuation time is of a little over 5 minutes, according to a study on crowd flow conducted by the fire brigade.
World Cup matches
The first World Cup match scheduled for the Baixada Arena will see Iran and Nigeria take to the pitch on 16 June. It is a Group F match. On 20 June, Honduras and Ecuador face each other in a Group E game. The most eagerly awaited match in the city will see current holders Spain take to the pitch against Australia on 23 June, in Group B's last round. The last match to be played at the capital of the state of Paraná is the Group H game between Algeria and Russia, on 26 June.