Photo: Raul Golinelli/Agecom
The third football stadium to be ready for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be officially opened next Sunday (7), with a match between the two biggest teams in the city of Salvador, Bahia. Bahia and Vitoria, both in the first division of the Brazilian football league, will play an official match for the regional championship for an estimated number of 40,000 fans.
The Fonte Nova stadium, whose official name is Octavio Manganbeira in honor of a former governor of Bahia, was initially used in the first Cup played in Brazil in 1950, but was only ready the following year. Mangabeira is today remembered as the author of the phrase “think of an absurd and Bahia (state) has a precedent”
It’s the first time in ten years that the two clubs face off in the traditional Fonte Nova stadium, now renamed Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, which was totally rebuilt after seven fans Bahia died while celebrating the return of their team to the second division, two years after relegation to the third.
The stadium, which had been condemned by the authorities for lack of security, was reopened by the state government, owner of the stadium, at the request of the board of Bahia.
In November 25, 2007, Bahia’s team faced Vila Nova de Goiás, needing only a draw to return to the second division. When the referee whistled the end of the second period, about 60,000 fans were jumping on the old bleachers erected in the 1950s. A piece of concrete ruptured and some fans plummeted from a height of approximately 15 meters. Seven people immediately died.
No one was arrested or punished in one of the greatest tragedies ever recorded in Brazilian football. Both the stadium administrator, former player Bobo, as the state governor Jaques Wagner, continued to perform their normal functions. And today they are ahead of the team that prepares the stage to receive six games of the next FIFA world cup.
The Arena Fonte Nova was built in a partnership between the state government and a private consortium, which spent R$ 689 million (US$ 344 mi) to build and will be able to exploit commercially the stadium for 35 years, charging tickets to football matches, concerts and other events. A Brazilian brewery Itaipava will pay R$ 100 million (US$ 50 mi) for the naming rights, so the stadium will be called Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova during the next 10 years, except during FIFA competitions (FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014 ), when only Budweiser, an official sponsor, will be marketed.