World Cup stadium holds first match after October fire
Brazil’s unfinished Arena Pantanal stadium in Cuiaba has held its first match since an October blaze raised fears it would not be ready in time to host World Cup games this summer.
The fire in late October caused more damage than was initially thought and prompted prosecutors to open a safety investigation at the arena, one of 12 Brazilian stadiums that will host the World Cup between June 12 and July 13.
State and federal prosecutors have since said they were satisfied with the stadium’s safety.
The match between Mixto and Santos in the Brazilian Cup on Wednesday was open to only 20,000 fans, about half of the stadium’s planned capacity.
Local media said some 23,000 seats still needed to be installed before the stadium’s official opening game on April 26.
Construction of several of the World Cup stadiums have been marred by repeated delays, fatal accidents and cost overruns.
On Monday, authorities halted work on temporary stands at the Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo - where the opening match of the World Cup will be played - following the fatal fall of a worker on Saturday.
The Arena Pantanal, located in Cuiaba at the heart of Brazil’s grain belt, was originally expected to have been ready in December of 2012. The construction started four years ago and has so far cost 570 million reais ($251.34 million).
Television images before the match showed the streets around the stadium flooded after heavy rains in Cuiaba.
The World Cup matches scheduled fo’ Cuiaba are June 13, between Chile and Australia; June 17, between Russia and South Korea; June 21, between Nigeria and Bosnia, and June 24, between Japan and Colombia.