On 21 December 2012, Belo Horizonte’s Estadio Mineirao became the second 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ stadium to be handed over, hot on the heels of the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza five days earlier. Traditionally one of the most iconic venues in Brazilian football, two-and-a-half years of renovation works have transformed the stadium into a modern, safe and sustainable arena – with room for 62,000 spectators.

“For me personally, this is where I got to know the game,” said Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, during the stadium’s handover ceremony. “When I see how the Mineirao of my youth has been transformed into this beautiful, modern stadium, it also underlines to me just how much the people of Minas Gerais state and Brazil are capable of achieving. I’d like to highlight how proud we are of the speed, efficiency and cost of the work carried out.”

“It’s unfortunate that I can’t be with you today and experience Minas Gerais' famous warm hospitality, but I’ve no doubt it’s a very proud day for President Dilma Rousseff in her home state,” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, in a video message broadcast on the Estadio Mineirao’s giant screen. “I can’t wait to see this stadium packed full of fans come next June, during the FIFA Confederations Cup.”

According to the Secretary of State for the FIFA World Cup, the work at the Estadio Mineirao employed around 3,000 people. Workers also had access to classes in literacy and IT, as well as cultural events such as trips to the museum, planetarium and symphonic orchestra. The new stadium boasts 106 electronic turnstiles, two 98m2 high-definition giant screens, 350 cameras, 90 executive boxes, media workstations and a restaurant overlooking the pitch.

I see how the Mineirao of my youth has been transformed into this beautiful, modern stadium, it also underlines to me just how much the people of Minas Gerais state and Brazil are capable of achieving.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff

“I’d like to thank the thousands of workers who spent two-and-a-half years on this remarkable construction. The heart and soul of every Mineiro [person from Minas Gerais state] is present within this concrete giant,” said Antonio Anastasia, the Governor of Minas Gerais.

“This multi-use arena will push the boundaries of football and bring new and different emotions to our area,” added the Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Marcio Lacerda.

The first official game at the new Estadio Mineirao will come on 3 February, on the opening matchday of the 2013 Mineiro state championship, and will be a traditional classico between local rivals Atletico-MG and Cruzeiro. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organising Committee (LOC) will subsequently be involved in carrying out one or two test events at the stadium, as part of preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 – which begins in June next year.

“lt’s a real pleasure being able to celebrate the inauguration of another FIFA World Cup stadium,” said the LOC’s CEO Ricardo Trade. “Right from the off, the management in Minas Gerais has been extremely professional and the fact the stadium was handed over before the agreed deadline puts us even more at ease.

"As a Mineiro myself, I experienced a lot of emotions in the old stadium," he continued. "But now, with stands closer to the pitch, high-definition giant screens and such comfort and safety, those emotions will be even more intense.”