FIFA World Cup venues present issues both for the organizing committee and the teams awaiting the upcoming draw this Friday. The 2014 stadiums, which face a deadline for completion set by FIFA of the end of December, are not going to be ready on time. While some are closer than others, at least six of the venues remain unfinished. Approximately, three have virtually no hope of meeting the date. In addition to timetable concerns, the cities hosting the games face a wide variety of questions ranging from the meeting of basic infrastructure needs to extremes of temperatures. When the groups are set after the draw, competing teams will have more to worry about than simply which teams they will be competing against.
Of the five locations that are yet to be completed, two might yet meet the deadline. The southernmost host city of Porto Allegre has nearly completed their stadium, but the teams drawn to play there may well face much lower temperatures than one might expect in Brazil. June is Winter in the southern hemisphere, and while that simply means more temperate and comfortable temperatures for cities located further north, like Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Sao Paulo, the southern parts of the country actually see some colder temperatures.
The northeastern city of Natal is also far enough along in the construction process that it might be completed on time. This stadium will complete a group of four northeastern cities to host FIFA World Cup games along with Recife, Salvador, and Fortaleza. Event goers will have the ability to travel between the cities with relative ease. This is a historically under-developed part of the country, however, and the facilities they find as they move outward from the stadium sites may not be as 21st century as they may wish. Visitors will be happy to discover, however, that some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil are close by to all of the venues. The winter temperatures are not even a consideration so close to the Equator.
The venues that present the most significant issues for the FIFA World Cup officials are the cities of Curitiba, Cuiaba, and Manaus. Neither location is anticipated to be completed before February, with Curitiba needing the most work to be completed. Sao Paulo has a stadium that was nearing completion before a major setback last week when a crane failed, dropping its heavy payload back onto part of the roof and killing two workers. It is not yet known how long it will take to effect repairs and complete the project in plenty of time for the opener, which is scheduled to be played there. Curitiba, together with Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and Rio de Janeiro, make up another group of four cities close enough to travel between them with relative ease. These are anticipated to be the more heavily attended venues. Cuiaba and Manaus are the most remote of the host cities, both in terms of location and supporting infrastructure. It is not a surprise to most that these are among the cities that are falling behind schedule. Marketing efforts are in full effect to figure out ways to draw crowds to these locations that will have little more to offer than the games themselves. Organizers will be spending considerable time and money between now and June making sure that they are able to lure supporters out to see those games.
As the teams look forward to Friday morning and draw that will tell them which teams they will face, they are also waiting with anticipation to see where they will be playing. FIFA officials are being publicly optimistic about the delays, assuring people that there will be no need to choose alternative locations. Given the fact that ticket sales for these events already number in the millions, relocation is now not really an option despite any issues the FIFA World Cup venues present now.
By Jim Malone