A stadium steeped in legend for Brazilian football and a sacred stage graced by stars like Paulo Roberto Falcao and Ronaldinho Gaucho, the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre was officially re-opened this Thursday (20 February). It now enters the final stages of preparations before hosting five 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ games – four from the group stage and one from the second stage.

The re-opening of Sport Club Internacional's stadium was attended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was accompanied by the FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, Rio Grande do Sul governor Tarso Genro, and the mayor of Porto Alegre, José Fortunati, among other officials. The FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) was represented by its CEO, Ricardo Trade, and by Management Board member Ronaldo.

“It's good to be back at the Beira-Rio for this official re-opening in the presence of President Dilma," said Valcke. "This is a stadium with so much history and I want to say again how good it now looks. But preparations for the World Cup continue. I'm happy with the agreement that the parties reached over the additional structures. It was another important milestone.”

President Dilma was greeted on the pitch by members of the stadium building team and presented with a personalised Inter jersey. She talked to and took photos with several of workers and then greeted players from the Internacional first team. Out in the middle of the pitch, she had a quick kick-about with Internacional team captain and No10, the Argentina midfielder Andres D'Alessandro.

Modern, aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable
Last weekend, the Beira-Rio stadium was put to the test for the first time when Internacional and Caxias faced off in the Campeonato Gaucho. The home team won 4–0 and the honour of unveiling the new stadium plaque fell to Inter defender Fabrício.

First opened in 1969, the Beira-Rio was fully closed for renovation in December 2012. Since then it has undergone a profound transformation, and will be able to hold 51,300 fans during the FIFA World Cup and up to 56,000 after the tournament.

“The state of Rio Grande do Sul is ready to hold big games and the Beira-Rio stadium is an example of what we'll see at the World Cup,” said state governor Tarso Genro.

During the renovation, special attention was given to improving access to the stands for fans. The new Beira-Rio now has seven gates and 17 access tunnels to the lower stands; four access ramps to the upper stands; 14 internal stairwells and 17 lifts that also serve the 55 boxes and 70 suites.

Spectator services have been improved with 22 food stations in the lower stands and 44 in the upper stands, as well as eight male and eight female bathrooms on each stand level.

However, the most visible change from the old Beira-Rio is the beautiful metal roof that now covers everything, including the ramps and access gates, shielding fans from the heat and the rain. Accommodated with comfort, spectators now have a closer view of the pitch, and one with no blind spots.

Security has also been given special attention in the new arena. The stadium's 289 cameras can be monitored from a control tower located at the pitch's centre line.

“It's a real pleasure to see what's been achieved here. The Beira-Rio is another member of the team of fantastic stadiums that we'll have at the World Cup,” said Ronaldo, who was cheered by workers and those invited to the event, as has happened at all the other stadiums he has visited.

On the weekend of 5-6 April, Internacional will officially celebrate the opening of the Beira-Rio, with shows, parades and a friendly against Uruguay's Penarol.