Deadspin is reviving its epic “Why Your Stadium Sucks” series for the World Cup (as, naturally, “Why Your World Cup Stadium Sucks”), and yesterday’s entry on Natal’s Arena das Dunas, where the U.S. took on Ghana in their opening match, is worth quoting at length. Not because the Natal stadium has been one of the most egregious examples of construction overruns and horrible safety standards — not a single worker was killed building it! — but because it’s so typical:
Imagine you live in a city on the cusp of becoming a major regional hub. (Put your hand down, Cleveland.) Your country’s economy as a whole is humming along, local industries are propelling an influx of domestic and international migrants, and your hometown has just been selected as a host city for the World Cup. Then you get promised new hospitals! And a light rail system! And boy, things are really looking up for you, aren’t they?
But then the hospital never gets built, and the light rail system never materializes, and that undulating, starchitect-designed soccer stadium that can seat 42,000 fans in a city where the major club team draws, oh, about 5,000 people for big matches ended up costing $400m, or about a third of the promised $1.3b in regional improvements. (Almost half of that billion-and-change was never even obligated, which should either make you feel better because, hey, it was never coming here anyway, or significantly worse since, fuck, the city fathers almost flushed their entire bankroll on one stadium.)
About 400 people demonstrated outside the stadium during yesterday’s match, some burning FIFA flags, others American flags. I guess because the U.S. invented spending way too much on sports stadiums? Though then really somebody should have burned a maple leaf, for historical accuracy.