FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ LOC Management Board member Ronaldo were greeted by stifling 40-degree heat as they paid a visit to Manaus on Tuesday. The two were in town to inspect the progress of construction work at the Arena Amazonia, and as they were able to see for themselves, everything is going exactly to plan.
Both Valcke and Ronaldo were pleased to see that work on the lower ring of seating was all but complete, prompting the former to say: “We’re heading back today convinced that if work continues at the pace we’ve seen, then we’ll have nothing to worry about. There’s still a lot that needs to be done, but the work is on time here. The deadline is December 2013 and the construction company has given us its assurance that everything will be ready on time.”
While Valcke was visiting Manaus for the very time, ex-Brazil star Ronaldo was making his return to the city, having played for A Seleção there in a 1996 friendly. That game was held at the Estadio Vivaldo Lima, which was demolished to make way for the new stadium.
“There’s no doubt about it – I’m getting old,” joked the former striker. “I think the construction of this new stadium is going to give football a terrific boost. Manaus is going to have a lovely FIFA-standard arena where local sides can play host to other teams, which will obviously give them the incentive to climb up through the divisions. I’d love to see that happen here as the city’s going to have a fantastic stadium. It’s just a shame that it’s too late for me to play at these new grounds.”
Ronaldo added that will try to watch a match at the Arena Amazonia during Brazil 2014 and went on to say that the new stadium will allow Manaus to attract a whole host of events: “I think that with a stadium like this Manaus will have a very definite chance of staging major international matches as well as shows and other events. This arena could become an important stage.”