Brazilian football unveiled its latest brand new stadium on Friday. Following on from the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte and the Castelao in Fortaleza, the Arena Fonte Nova, located in Salvador in the northeastern state of Bahia, is the third stadium to be completed for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Bahia’s most famous football arena and one of the most distinguished landmarks in the Brazilian game, the Fonte Nova has been given a complete facelift thanks to a 32-month construction project, which has turned it into a modern facility with a capacity of 48,744.
The new stadium is one of six that will be used at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 this June, when it will stage three matches: the group games between Brazil and Italy on the 16th and Nigeria and Spain on the 20th, and the match for third place on the 30th. It will also provide the venue for six matches at next year’s world finals.
Friday’s opening ceremony was attended by the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, the Governor of Bahia Jacques Wagner, the Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo and the Mayor of Salvador Antonio Carlos Magalhaes Neto, who were accompanied by several dignitaries and a sizeable number of representatives of the 10,000 workers who helped build the stadium.
“There is one word that sums my feelings about this unique building, one that reveals the spirit and creativity of the people of Bahia and Brazil. That word is ‘pride’,” said President Rousseff in her speech at the ceremony.
“It is a stadium that will delight anyone who visits it,” she continued. “It is a work of faith and respect for the people of Salvador and the entire population of Brazil. It is a source of pride to be hosting the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, and I am sure that at both tournaments we will stage quite a show here at this stadium.”
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter sent a video message congratulating the people of Bahia on the opening of the new stadium.
“We are immensely satisfied with the huge interest the FIFA Confederations Cup is generating among the people of Bahia and Brazil,” commented Blatter. “Exactly one year ago, Governor Jacques Wagner came to Zurich and gave his word that the stadium would be handed over with enough time to allow the facilities to be tested for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
“I am very happy to see that we were absolutely right to put all our trust in the Bahian people. Unfortunately I cannot be with you in person this time due to other commitments, but I am very keen to visit the Arena Fonte Nova during the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.”
Rebelo also spoke at the ceremony and pointed out that the Arena Fonte Nova eloquently expresses the diversity of the Brazilian people and the joie de vivre of Bahia’s inhabitants.
He said: “Salvador has a stadium that reflects its way of being, its personality, history and diversity. I have followed the hard work to rebuild the Fonte Nova from the very beginning, and that work has merely reflected the dignity of the people of Bahia and their passion for football.”
The new stadium will host its first game at 4pm local time this Sunday, when Bahia and Vitoria, two of Brazil’s oldest teams, meet in the latest staging of the ever-exciting Ba-Vi derby. The two local rivals will square off again on 28 April in a test event for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
A very special curtain-raiser
“The Arena is already in the hearts of the state’s inhabitants. It will be the stage where the passions of all the people of Bahia and Salvador will be played out,” said Governor Wagner, before highlighting the importance of sustainability at the Arena Fonte Nova, which has been built using materials recycled from the demolition of the old Estadio Fonte Nova.
Summing up the feeling of pride among local people, the mayor of Salvador said: “Everything has been done to ensure that Brazil’s first capital city has the most beautiful and complete stadium in the country.”
“The Fonte Nova has great historical importance,” added Ricardo Trade, the CEO of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organising Committee (LOC). “It has staged some of Brazilian football’s defining moments and now that it has been fully refurbished, I am certain it will continue to be a place where fans can express all their emotions. Bahians can now watch football at a modern and comfortable stadium and can show their great passion for the game. This is a stadium that matches that passion.”