Co.Design

Ranking Brazil's World Cup Stadiums, From Bad To Worse

Wasteful, or criminally wasteful?

Constructing enormous new structures for a one-off sports event hardly ever works out in the host country's favor; the choice these days tends to be between minimizing cost (as London did with its easy-to-collapse 2012 Olympic Stadium) and impressing the world with giant wasteful beauties (like China and Russia did with their Olympic Games, to varying degrees of success). The world is littered with huge stadiums that will never be fully used again, and some of Brazil's 12 World Cup stadiums (some brand-new, some merely redone for the events) will surely face a similar fate. So let's rank them!

These rankings are based on a highly scientific* formula of how cool the design is; how wasteful the stadium is (i.e., how likely a stadium of that size in that place is to be used after the Cup); how remote it is (from Rio, thus contributing a whole lot of burned fossil fuel from players and fans), and how many people died while constructing it (This is a real statistic! In 2014!). Also, I've thrown in how difficult I think the name of the stadium is to pronounce. Your reactions are welcome in the comments section below. These are in order from least worst to worst.

12. Arena Fonte Nova

Nice. Nice. Located in Salvador, the largest city in the northeast coast of Brazil, Fonte Nova seems like it was actually designed to be functional by architects Marc Duwe and Claas Schulitz. It may look from above like a donut, but one section of the blue-green stadium has a big gap, almost like a vent, boosting air circulation in the hot city. Even better, it can be reused later as an amphitheater, with the gapped section looking out on a paved area for concertgoers.

11. Estadio Mineirao

This stadium was previously declared a national monument, so even though it's new, it has kind of a cool old styling thing going on. Vintage stadium! It sort of looks like, I don't know, like Wrigley Field. It'll also be used in the 2016 Olympics, unlike some of the more inconveniently located stadiums on this list.

10. Estadio Do Maracana

Estadio Do Maracana does not, as I had first thought, translate to the "Macarena Stadium." It loses points (there are no points) for that. Fortunately, it's not a one-event stadium; situated in Rio, it'll be used by four of the city's soccer teams as well as during the 2016 Olympics. It is boring and round but at least it will be forced to be functional.

9. Arena De Sao Paulo

The Arena De Sao Paulo, which is in Sao Paulo, as you might have guessed, looks very cool, with this curved windowed roof laid on top of two huge blocks. Why is it ranked so low? Well, um, three people have died building it. Come on, guys.

8. Estadio Castelao

I like Castelao because it was completed on time and within budget. Good work! Also I Googled Fortaleza, the stadium's home city, and the pictures make it look really nice. It is probably the most boring-looking of the stadiums, with a rounded soccer-field shape and a white awning.

7. Estadio Das Dunas

This stadium gets a bump because I can understand what its name means. Also it's shaped like an undulating dune, which is nice.

6. Estadio Beira-Rio

How chilly can a Brazilian soccer stadium get? That's the kind of fun question Estadio Beira-Rio will let us find the answer to, because, as the farthest south of the stadiums, it's also the coldest (averaging around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer). Estadio Beira-Rio will get some use after the Cup, as it'll be host to the team Internacional. I don't love the plain donut-looking circular stadiums, of which this is one, but the texture on the outside looks like folded paper which is kind of cool.

5. Arena Pernambuco

Located on the Atlantic coast more than 1,400 miles from Rio, it rains on average 224 days per year. The BBC says it's built in an economically deprived area "and will eventually form part of a leisure complex and residential development which it is hoped will act as a catalyst for local regeneration." I'll believe that when I see a disused World Cup or Olympic stadium act as a catalyst for anything besides echoes. It has gently sloping sides so that it looks like something Tony Hawk would do a sweet kickflip off of if he were a few hundred feet tall. He's not, though.

4. Estadio Da Baixada

Over 500 miles from Rio, this stadium is situated in an area with nice comfortable weather. That's about its only upside; even though it was renovated years ago, the stadium just barely made it past FIFA's gauntlet to be used this year. It looks like it's made out of Lego.

3. Estadio Nacional

The stadium located in Brazil's capital city, Brasilia, cost three times its estimate, making it the most expensive construction project of this World Cup. Also no major teams play in Brasilia, so who knows what it'll be used for after the Cup? One worker died during construction. The stadium is perfectly circular with a round hole in the middle, which makes it look to me like a butthole.

2. Estadio Pantanal

Located near the Bolivian border, Pantanal's stadium ranks high on the uselessness-after-the-games scale. The only teams that'll use it afterwards are way down in the minor leagues of Brazilian soccer, and yes, I know they're not called the minor leagues. Temperatures there can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Last October, the stadium caught fire, and in May, a worker was electrocuted. Also it looks like a cardboard box with the top folded out.

1. Estadio Amazonia

Are you kidding me with this? Estadio Amazonia is 2,659 miles by road from Rio. That's farther away from Rio than Los Angeles is from New York City. If Estadio Amazonia were as far west from New York as it is from Rio, it'd be 200 miles into the Pacific Ocean. All the players would drown. It would be the worst catastrophe in World Cup history. Also, as its name suggests, it's in the Amazon rainforest--like, on the Amazon River--which means there's a 40% chance of rain at all times and temperatures in the high 80s. Oh, and four workers have died constructing this stadium. Design-wise, the stadium looks pretty cool, the product of German firm gmp Architekten; it's designed to look like an indigenous woven basket, except made out of steel girders. Still, though. Last place.

*That's a lie

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86 Comments

  • José Fernandes

    I just created an account to tell what a lack of research and disrespect with the brazilian culture this article is; "Ranking Brazil's World Cup Stadiums, From Bad To Worse." OK, so there's no good stadiums in Brazil, all of them, with no exception (I mean, literally all of them, 100%) are, at least, "bad." You must know a lot about design; Estádio Mineirão: "This stadium was previously declared a national monument, so even though it's new, it has kind of a cool old styling thing going on. Vintage stadium!" this just shows that you didn't do any research at all about this stadium, Mineirão was inaugurated back in 1965 (maybe that's why it has the "vintage" design!), it's fine, you just missed it by 4 decades.

  • Dude, I am a brazilian and kinda agree with almost everything you said, despite that the MINAS GERAIS stadium is going to host the RIO DE JANEIRO Olympics 2016.....that's totally impossible...if you know what I mean....it'll be only in RIO DE JANEIRO...only there

  • Brazilians have a very bad sense of humor when Brazil is the topic, only though if it comes from a gringos mouth. They can make fun of themselves but if a gringo does they freak out like you can see in the comments. I know, im brazilian American and even i am not allowed to poke fun at Brazil. The author wrote this somewhat as a joke. Anyone that takes this seriously needs to relax and gozar.

    Po brasileirada o cara escreveu um texto que eh pra ser comico. Deixam de ser malas.

  • Agreed. But he should at least know that the 2016 Olympics will only be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, so the Minas Gerais Stadium is completely out of question....

    Concordo, mas ele deveria pelo menos saber que as olimpiadas de 2016 serão apenas no Rio de Janeiro, portanto o estadio de Minas Gerais está completamente fora de questão....

  • Brazilians have a very bad sense of humor when Brazil is the topic, only though if it comes from a gringos mouth. They can make fun of themselves but if a gringo does they freak out like you can see in the comments. I know, im brazilian American and even i am not allowed to poke fun at Brazil. The author wrote this somewhat as a joke. Anyone that takes this seriously needs to relax and gozar.

    Po brasileirada o cara escreveu um texto que eh pra ser comico. Deixam de ser malas.

  • José Fernandes

    A questão não é essa, meu amigo. Ele escreveu coisas sem pesquisar, como, por exemplo, que o Mineirão é um estádio novo (se você não sabe, o estádio foi inaugurado em 1965). E usou critérios idiotas como a distância até o Rio de Janeiro e a dificuldade de se pronunciar o nome do estádio (sendo que ele não fala português, ou seja, é um critério completamente idiota).

  • Igor Cardozo Brandao

    I can not believe how you have written a text like this without studying the history of each stadium and city in Brazil. From the description you make from Fonte Nova and Mineirão, I don´t want to continue reading ... Before writing this news, you should at least try to know a little about the history of each stadium ... talk that is Mineirao is new and has a vintage style is because you do not know that he was just renovated for the World Cup, keeping the structure of more than 50 years ... to say that the stadium is not as bad as others because they will be used in the 2016 Olympics , you show complete ignorance of Brazil in not knowing that the Mineirão also receive weekly games of the current Brazilian champion, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube... ridiculous text. You should be ashamed.

  • Chad Smith

    I can't believe this was written... It is completely biased and didn't add any bit of credibility to the issue of the stadiums. One of the authors reasons for a stadium on the list was:"it looked like a cardboard box." And this person is getting paid to work there?

  • Renato Forster

    Dude, in the first place, why the hell are you comparing the distance of the stadiums from Rio? Second of all, what makes you think Arena Pernambuco will be misused after World Cup? Let me get you an info that you may have missed in your research to vomit this article: Pernambuco has the highest average attendance in Brazil's stadiums. They have 3 major high ranked clubs there, and some others middle rank. And where did you get the information that Porto Alegre is "averaging around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer"? You cannot be more wrong about that. Porto Alegre is one of the most warmest cities in Brazil in the summer. Stop spreading misinformation, please?

  • Yonara Livings

    Omg.... Whoever wrote this article probably hate Brazil. I couldn't finish reading it because it was badly written. I'd be disappointment if that was one of my employees. Sorry this website have somebody working for them with such little knowledge and class.

  • Rick Espana

    A sad example of how illiterate many are about architecture. What could have been a great study turned into a poorly written analysis that does very little to educate.

  • Luciana Cattony Silva Araujo

    Shame of you Fast Co! You must go to Brazil to rewrite this article or go to reliable sources. Unacceptable writing! C'mon Guys!

  • mariarmora2

    Oops! This is an awful article worthy of middle school! Where were the editors? Hope this does not happen again, please...

  • mariarmora2

    Oops! This is really a bad and badly written article at a middle school level! C'mon, where were the editors?