Delayed World Cup Stadium Seen Ready Six Weeks Before Tournament

A World Cup stadium that’s facing exclusion from the list of venues is likely to be completed just six weeks before this year’s tournament in Brazil, an official said.

Reginaldo Cordeiro, World Cup secretary for Curitiba where the much-delayed Arena da Baixada remains a building site, told city officials of the timeframe yesterday.

“The secretary told a meeting that the stadium will be ready by April 30, maybe 15 days before,” Alvaro Borba, a spokesman for the city of Curitiba, said in a telephone interview. “He told them he was sure the stadium would be ready for the World Cup.”

By April its fate may already have been decided. Financing problems have meant work on the 41,456-seat arena has fallen so far behind schedule that soccer governing body FIFA will decide Feb. 18 whether to exclude the stadium. Such a move so close to the event would be unprecedented for a World Cup and highlight the difficulties Brazil has had in preparing for sport’s most-watched event. The competition runs from June 12 to July 13.

FIFA didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the likely completion date.

Construction work across the continent-sized country has been marred by delays, cost overruns and deaths of building workers in recent months as deadlines have become shorter. Last week a construction worker in the jungle city of Manaus became the second man to die there in six weeks. In all, six workers have died in construction of World Cup stadiums.

Costs Increased

As the rush to complete the Arena da Baixada has increased, so has the cost. The stadium, a joint venture between local team Atletico Paranaense, the state of Parana and Curitiba, is now budgeted to cost 330 million reais ($136 million), 78 percent more than the original budget. The total for all 12 arenas will be more than 8 billion reais, or at least 43 percent more than the original estimate.

Even if the stadium is completed by April 30 it will still require more work before the first World Cup game scheduled there, between Iran and Nigeria on June 16. This would include temporary structures such as VIP tents, sponsor areas and security scanners.

Mauro Holzmann, executive director for marketing and communication for Atletico Paranaense, said the team won’t comment until after FIFA makes its Feb. 18 announcement.

In January last year, Cordeiro said the stadium would be ready by Nov. 30, a month before FIFA’s original deadline. Dropping the stadium would create a major headache as more than 1 million tickets for the World Cup have already been sold, including some allocated for Curitiba.

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