KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —– The probability of further street protests during the World Cup finals in Brazil next year has been enhanced by the latest revelations of cost overruns, despite corner-cutting to meet FIFA’s December 31 deadline.
Just four of the 12 stadia are coming in £200m over budget between them.
The latest figures will fuel unrest over hosting costs, by comparison with social welfare spending, and exacerbate concerns about financial controls for the hosting of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Brazil’s World Cup Local Organising Committee owned up to the ever-spiralling costs when it released the fifth edition of the balance sheet of the construction process.
This showed that, by September, the World Cup stadia had cost £285m more than budgeted even though various refinements had been trimmed from the original designs.
Last December the fourth report on construction costs stated the budget for the 12 stadia at £4.7bn. Nine months later, this had shot up to £5.3bn. The most expensive of the all-new stadia is Sao Paulo’s Itaquerão at £550m.
The new home of Corinthians will host the Opening Match on June 12. An initial capacity of 65,807 will be cut to 45,000 after the finals following the removal of initial temporary stands.
The sharp increase in construction costs is partly ascribed by the report to the haste enforced by timely completion of the stadia used at last June’s Confederations Cup.
The Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia was scheduled to cost £676m but came in at £935m, an increase not so far short of 50pc.
The construction costs of the four publicly-owned World Cup stadia (Rio’s Maracanã, Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha, Manaus’s Amazonas and Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal) have increased by 23pc to £2.46bn. The privately-controlled Arena da Baixada in Curitiba is around 40pc over budget.
The total number of seats available to fans at the finals stadia has edged down marginally from 670,000 to 669,603.
Examples of corner-cutting are most evident at Manaus and Curitiba. Latest reports estimate Manaus as being 90.5pc complete and the Baixada at 83pc.
However the Arena Amazonas in Manaus will not, as originally promised, be the ‘most green’ stadium at the finals: an ambitious scheme to run the venue with solar power has been frozen.
Nor will Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada have its planned retractable roof. The stadium is owned by Atletico Paranaense but redevelopment is being undertaken with the help of public funds. Completion of the retractable roof, the first in Brazil, has also been put back until after the World Cup.
Whether the solar power project in Manaus or the retractable roof in Curitiba ever go ahead is questionable.
Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said last week he was confident that all the stadia would be ‘delivered’ by the end of December.
Realistically, the promise is more important than the practicality.
Once the World Cup draw has taken place at the end of next week the match schedule and the stadia – completed or not – will be sealed in political and financial concrete.
There will be no going back.