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After extended discussions between those in favour of and against building a new stadium, the constructive campaign, led particularly by journalist Mario Filhõ, bore fruit. The Maracanã was built on a former horse-racing track belonging to the Jockey Club. It was created to host the football World Cup in 1950, and its designers wanted it to be the biggest stadium in the world. Some 10,000 tonnes of iron, three million bricks and half-a-million bags of cement were needed to construct it in less than two years, thanks to the efforts of 1,500 workers labouring day and night. However, the press was critical, citing the insufficient number of toilets and the lack of a press stand. It was not until 1965 that the stadium was finally completed, and these omissions put right.

In 2000, to mark its 50th anniversary, it underwent its first reconfiguration. The number of seats was reduced (103,000 seats), and security was improved. Then, from 2005 to 2006, the Maracanã was closed to the public to allow for new seating to be installed, to offer better visibility and greater comfort for spectators.

Then, with a view to the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Summer Games in 2016, further renovation and modernisation work was undertaken. These renovations mainly concerned the improvement of the reception areas, especially the zone reserved for the media. Outside the stadium, the Brazilian authorities complied with the requirements imposed by FIFA: access to the stadium was improved, and more than 1,000 parking spaces were built.


When it was first built, the stadium was oval in shape, with its outer part made of reinforced concrete. During the subsequent modernisations, the infrastructure looked the same, but the capacity was progressively reduced. During the most recent renovation, in 2010, a new bigger roof resting on the existing building supports replaced the old cantilevered one. The whole roof surface is covered with a PTFE-coated fibreglass membrane.

In addition, savings of 45 per cent were made in the amount of water needed to irrigate the pitch, thanks to the installation of a water recycling system and a roof drainage system. There are also 1,500 solar panels on the roof used to heat water for the showers.

Lastly, two existing access ramps were refurbished and four new ones built. Thanks to this work, the stadium can be emptied in eight minutes – an improvement in terms of both access and safety.

The magnificent stadium in Rio de Janeiro can be compared, without exaggeration, to the Colosseum, through the evocation of its lines and the majesty of its gigantic architectural conception. Jules Rimet Former President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and creator of the football World Cup.

As the stadium is an emblem of Brazil, the colours chosen for the seats are those in the national flag: yellow for the lower seats, blue for the middle seats and white for those at the top. The grass is dark green, which adds to the aesthetic dimension of this carioca arena.


The Maracanã Stadium is an emblematic venue in the history of Brazilian sport and world football. It is still used for football competitions, and is rented by two clubs, Flamengo and Fluminense, which use it regularly to play their matches. The stadium also hosts concerts.


- The Maracanã has been listed as a historic monument by the Brazilian National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute.
- It is the second most visited place in Rio de Janeiro after the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
- In the history of the Games of the Olympiad, it is the first stadium to have hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies but no athletics events.


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- Marc Perelman, L’ère des stades : genèse et structure d’un espace historique (Psychologie de masse et spectacle total), Infolio. Gollion, 2010, p. 110.
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Name: Also called the João Havelange Stadium before and after the Games, it was renamed the Nilton Santos Stadium in 2017 after the famous Brazilian footballer. It is also nicknamed Engenhão.
Location: R. José dos Reis 425, Engenho de Dentro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Status: Existing stadium, renovated for the Games. In use today.
Designers: Carlos Porto, Geraldo Lopes, Gilson Santos and José Raymundo Gomes (architects)
Cost: Redevelopment work for the Games: 52 million Brazilian reals
Capacity: 60,000 spectators
Dimensions: 284m long and 232m wide
Additional information: For the new metal roof structure, 1,300 tonnes of steel were added to the existing 4,000 tonnes. The roof’s two long arches each measure 284 metres, and the two shorter ones 232 metres.
Construction: September 2003 to June 2007
Official opening: 30 June 2007
Events during the Games: Athletics (excluding the marathons, the 20km race walks and the 50km race walk) and group matches in the football tournaments.

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