Maracana Stadium

Maracana Stadium is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and its official name is Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho. It was named after a journalist who supported the construction of the stadium back in the 50s. However, the nickname Maracana is more popular and it comes from the river which springs in the hills close to the stadium and crosses numerous neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Nowadays the neighborhood in which the stadium is located is also called Maracana, but this wasn’t the case when the construction started.

Maracana Stadium, Brazil is owned and administered by the Rio de Janeiro State Government. It was initially built for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1950. In the future years it was used for hosting games between football clubs in Rio, concerts and other sports events. The attendance at the final game of the 1950 World Cup was estimated at almost 200.000 people, but nowadays the capacity of the stadium is much reduced and it can only accommodate around 79.000 spectators. Currently the stadium is closed for renovations as Brazil is going to host 2013 Confederation Cup, 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics. It is supposed to reopen at the beginning of 2013.

The Brazilian government considered it necessary to build a new stadium after the country was nominated to host the 1950 World Cup. Maracana Stadium was designed by seven Brazilian architects. The construction started in August 1948 and this meant that Brazil only had less than two years to finish the stadium. They received help from Italy, the organizer of 1934 World Cup in order to be able to finish on time. 1.500 people worked to build Maracana Stadium and in the final months another 2.000 were also involved. Even though the stadium was used in 1950, as it was initially planned, it was completely done only in 1965.

The building of the Maracana Stadium raised some controversies at the time. A political enemy of the mayor of Rio de Janeiro contested the huge price of the stadium and also its location. Fortunately, the construction went as planned with the help of the journalist Mario Filho.

The first match on Maracana Stadium, Brazil took place on the 16th of July 1950 between Rio de Janeiro All-Stars and Sao Paolo All-Stars (3-1). Even though it was able to host a game, the stadium was still unfinished and lacked toilet facilities and press stands. Despite this fact, FIFA didn’t cancel the World Cup matches which were scheduled on Maracana Stadium. On the 24th of June 1950 the first World Cup match was held between Brazil and Mexico (4-0). Five out of six matches of Brazil were played on Maracana during the 1950 World Cup, including the final which was won by Uruguay. The official attendance at the final of the 1950 World Cup was estimated at almost 200.000 people, but it is believed that there were 10.000 more.

Maracana Stadium was only finished seventeen years after the construction began, in 1965. During this time it still hosted football matches between clubs in Rio and other sports events. An unfortunate accident in 1992 resulted in the death of two people and the injury of 50 more. The capacity of the stadium was greatly reduced after this incident and in the end of the 90s it became an all-seated stadium. In the same period it was also declared a Brazilian national landmark which meant that it can’t be demolished.

After the year 2000, Maracana stadium was renovated several times.
The purpose of the renovations was to increase its capacity to around 100.000 people, but it was reopened in 2007 with a capacity of approximately 82.000 people.  Nowadays Maracana Stadium undergoes a major renovation in order to be suitable for 2014 World Cup, 2013 Confederation Cup and 2016 Olympics.

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