World Cup Stadium Where Workers Died Is in Naming Rights Talks

Owners of the Sao Paulo stadium where two construction workers died last month when a crane collapsed are in talks about naming rights with four foreign companies and two Brazilian businesses.

After next year’s World Cup, the stadium will be the home of Brazil’s richest soccer team, Sport Club Corinthians. Andres Sanchez, the team’s former president who’s responsible for the building work, declined to reveal the names of the companies involved in the talks and indicated that a deal isn’t imminent.

“It depends on the figure,” he told reporters. “If you are prepared to write a check, we can negotiate.”

The 820 million reais ($352 million) stadium will miss its planned January opening after the crane gave way while hoisting a 400-ton section of the roof, crushing the two men. Sanchez said work is on track to meet soccer governing body FIFA’s new construction deadline of April 15.

The Nov. 26 incident ripped a gash in one corner of the stadium. The roof fixture will remain embedded in the side of the arena, while the crane -- at 1,500 tons the biggest in Brazil -- will continue to lie on its side until investigations by police and the crane’s owner are complete.

Prospective sponsors have talked with the team about the crane collapse, Corinthians Marketing Director Caio Campos said.

“There is a negative impact throughout the world involving the construction,” Campos said in an e-mail. “But the naming rights agreement is a long-term agreement and the negotiations have not suffered such a negative impact.”

Third Death

Three days ago, another worker died after falling 35 meters (115 feet) from the roof of the Arena Amazonas, a stadium being constructed in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon region.

The venue is one of six that remain under construction. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said a Dec. 31 deadline for completion has been pushed back to January, while several stadium managers have said their facilities won’t be ready until February at the earliest.

Workers aren’t being endangered by the need to meet construction deadlines, Sanchez said. The Sao Paulo facility complies with national labor laws and no worker is allowed to do more than two hours’ overtime, he said. The deaths were the only serious injuries in 9.5 million man hours of work at the venue that will open the World Cup on June 12, he said.

“I was here unfortunately when the accident happened,” Sanchez said. “It would have been better if the whole stadium had collapsed and the two guys had not died.”

Until the naming rights are sold, the venue should be called Arena Corinthians and not Sao Paulo Stadium, the name given to it by World Cup organizers, Sanchez said. He’s asked that FIFA officially change the name because Sao Paulo Stadium resembles the name of local rival Sao Paulo Futebol Clube. FIFA said it will change the name once it receives a formal letter.

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