As the countdown continues to the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, the latest venue has been unveiled by the host nation. On Sunday 9 March, a quarter-final clash in the Copa Verde (a competition for clubs from Brazil’s northern region) between Amazonas side Nacional and Para outfit Remo was the setting for the inauguration of the Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

With a capacity of 40,000 for World Cup games, the venue will host four group-stage fixtures: the eagerly awaited clash of England and Italy in Group D on 14 June; the meeting of Croatia and Cameroon in Group A on 18 June; USA versus Portugal in Group G on 22 June, as well as Switzerland-Honduras in Group E three days later.

While yesterday’s 2-2 draw and consequent elimination from the competition was not the result Nacional supporters were hoping for, there was the consolation of now having an ultra-modern stadium with levels of safety, convenience and spectator comfort to rival some of the finest venues in the world.

It is also a stadium inspired by Amazonian traditions, its outer shell resembling a straw basket typical of the region. Then there are the seats, coloured in shades of yellow, orange and coral, to represent the diversity of fruits indigenous to the Amazon.

The importance placed on spectator comfort is evident both in the stadium’s design and choice of materials. For example, a special skin on the roof membrane allows a high degree of heat absorption, ensuring the temperature inside the stadium is lower than that outside.

A brighter future for Amazonian football
The Arena Amazonia was built on the site of the old Vivaldao, the stadium that 77-year-old Pedro Hermogenes long frequented as a fan of Rio Negro, another of the region’s established sides. Not in attendance to cheer on rivals Nacional, it was a case of coming to the game to see the ‘new home’ for himself.

“I came to see what the stadium was like,” said Hermogenes. "I followed the construction work and was curious to see how it turned out. It’s completely different to the Vivaldao – it’s spectacular. I hope Manaus can take advantage of the venue to bring more tourists to the city."

Also in attendance was Irismazio Viana da Silva, a 38-year old fan of Amazonian side Sao Raimundo. “As someone who came a lot to the old Vivaldao, I’m able to compare both. For me the Arena Amazonia is wonderful. It’s everything I expected, so top marks,” he said.

His wife, Monica Siqueira, was also impressed with the aesthetics, saying: “I love the roof and coloured seating. It looks superb.”

Rogerio Oliveira and Erica Oliveira, another couple, highliged the Arena’s importance to Manaus and hoped it would be the catalyst for better time for football in the region, which enjoyed its heyday during the 1980s and '90s.

"I’d love it if the Arena Amazonia helped boost the quality of Amazonian football," said Rogerio. "I think it’s a real possibility, mainly because visiting teams now have a modern stadium to play in. That should motivate them to come here and test themselves against our sides."