Venue costs rising for Brazil
SAO PAULO (AP)
As the 2014 World Cup gets closer, the stadium costs in Brazil keep going up.
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Indecision on where and how to build venues have reduced the time left for construction work, significantly increasing the amount needed to be spent in nearly all of the 12 cities hosting World Cup matches three years from now.
The Maracana, which will host the tournament's final, is among the stadiums that will cost a lot more than originally planned when the initial projects were presented to FIFA after Brazil was chosen as World Cup host a few years ago.
Sao Paulo, touted to host the World Cup opener, is also facing an increase.
A report by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Brazil's largest, said Thursday the total outlay required had increased 56 percent so far.
When the host cities were chosen in May 2009, the stadiums were projected to cost nearly $2.6 billion (?1.8 billion), but now the bill is closer to $4 billion ($2.8 billion).
Stadium delays have been one of the main concerns for World Cup organizers in Brazil, along with improving the nation's outdated airport infrastructure, which will be key to accommodating the hundreds of thousands of visitors during the monthlong tournament.
Although officials have guaranteed that all stadiums will be ready on time, three host cities are yet to start building their venues - Sao Paulo, Natal and Curitiba.
Sao Paulo initially planned to host matches at the renovated Morumbi stadium, but that was rejected by FIFA because of a lack of financial guarantees. The city, South America's biggest, was without a stadium project for several months until Corinthians announced it would build an arena for the tournament.
However, the club initially said the stadium would accommodate only 48,000 people, not enough for the opener. The city had to provide tax breaks so could Corinthians could submit a new plan to expand, thus delaying the project and increasing the cost.
''It's important for those involved to understand that Sao Paulo is the key football center in Brazil,'' Brazil coach Mano Menezes said. ''At times, there are difficulties. But I'm optimistic that in the end everybody will do well, including Sao Paulo.''
Although FIFA has said that no venue has been ruled out for the 2013 Confederations Cup, Sao Paulo officials have said the city is unlikely to host matches in the World Cup warm-up tournament as the stadium won't be ready by then.
''We are not very optimistic regarding the readiness of Sao Paulo for the FIFA Confederations Cup,'' FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. ''Morumbi is definitely no option. However, the decision of the venues selected will be taken at the first meeting of the organizing committee on July 29 in Rio de Janeiro.''
Rio city officials announced Wednesday that Maracana's renovations will be completed in time for the Confederations Cup, but the famed stadium also cost more than originally planned because a new roof has to be built. The original project was estimated at about $430 million, but the final cost will near $590 million.
Missed deadlines and problems in bidding processes have also marred other venues, and Folha said the costs of eight other stadiums have risen.
Only the jungle city of Manaus hasn't increased its venue cost so far, while Cuiaba says it will actually spend 12 percent less than planned, according to Folha
Tales Azzoni can be reached at http://twitter.com/tazzoni