Rio's legendary Maracana Stadium is to get a $500 million dollar facelift for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, the city's Secretary of Sports and Tourism confirmed on Thursday.

"The start of renovation work at the stadium is planned for March 2010 but it will only close completely in September," Marcia Lins Lins told a press conference.

The end of work on the stadium, the largest in the world when it was inaugurated in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup, is planned for December 2012.

The Maracana is classified as an historic monument so the facade will be maintained but a roof will be added to the five-storey oval stadium.

The stadium's capacity will however drop to 83,000 from its current 88,000.

"Before, stadiums were practically just large pitches but today they are multi-disciplined arenas," said Lins.

She added that the project also included the regeneration of the entire northern area of the city.