Football: $300 million World Cup stadium closes after just eight months for repairs

A screenshot from YouTube of the Pantanal Arena. Brazil's World Cup stadium at Cuiaba is undergoing emergency repairs, just eight months after its inauguration, the government of the central western state of Mato Grosso said Thursday. -- PH
A screenshot from YouTube of the Pantanal Arena. Brazil's World Cup stadium at Cuiaba is undergoing emergency repairs, just eight months after its inauguration, the government of the central western state of Mato Grosso said Thursday. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazil's World Cup stadium at Cuiaba is undergoing emergency repairs, just eight months after its inauguration, the government of the central western state of Mato Grosso said Thursday.

"The Pantanal Arena will have emergency repairs to resolve various construction problems with a view to offering security to its users," a state government statement read.

The venue, which staged four World Cup matches, is due to host state league action from Feb 1 but only if the repairs are finished.

The US$250 million (S$330 million) stadium, holding 44,000 fans, was built in a race against the clock in time for the World Cup last June and July.

One worker at the site was electrocuted just prior to a May inauguration.

Cuiaba is not the only ongoing controversy among the 12 Cup venues, several of which threaten to become 'white elephants' as they have no host club to keep revenue rolling in.

Brazilian taxpayers hoping to see the Mane Garrincha stadium, expensively renovated in the capital Brasilia for last year's World Cup paid off, will find that will not happen for around 1,000 years, the capital's public accounts office warned on Monday.

The publicly-funded stadium, refurbishing an original structure built in 1974 for some 1.9 billion reais (S$990 million), will take centuries rather than decades to pay off after earning just 1.3 million reais of rental income in the first year following renovation completed some three times over budget just ahead of the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup.

The spiralling costs made the venue the world's second-most-expensive soccer stadium after English sporting shrine Wembley.

Only six World Cup venues are home to a top flight league team, raising questions among critics as to the ability of the remainder, including Cuiaba, to prove their viability.

More than one million Brazilians took to the streets the year before the World Cup to protest the $11 billion cost to the public purse of the tournament, with many complaining the cash would have been better spent on improving transport, health and education infrastructure.