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