Brazil's World Cup Legacy Includes $550M Stadium-Turned-Parking Lot : Parallels Another lavish $215 million arena built for last year's event is now a homeless shelter. Touted as one of the best World Cups in history on the pitch, it's left a hangover of waste and mismanagement.
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Brazil's World Cup Legacy Includes $550M Stadium-Turned-Parking Lot

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Brazil's World Cup Legacy Includes $550M Stadium-Turned-Parking Lot

Brazil's World Cup Legacy Includes $550M Stadium-Turned-Parking Lot

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's been almost a year since Brazil hosted the World Cup, and the hangover hasn't gone away. Giant purpose-built stadiums now stand empty of players and fans. And incredibly, there are infrastructure projects still unfinished. As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports, this comes at a time when Brazil is dealing with economic woes and another expensive mega-event, next year's Summer Olympics.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: The most expensive World Cup stadium located in the capital, Brasilia - price tag, $550 million - is being used now as a parking lot for busses.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED NEWS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Here's the local news report which talks about how the stadium is a large, open-air garage. The stadium in Cuiaba, which cost some $215 million to build, has made news repeatedly, first for being closed down because of faulty construction and then recently for homeless people sleeping rough in its unused locker rooms.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED NEWS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The anchor here says the stadium has been abandoned and is filled with garbage. We spoke to the manager of the facility who says the city is currently looking for a private company to take over the project, but that's not the worst part. The state's former governor, the president of the local assembly and the former local World Cup head are actually all under investigation in Cuiaba for another World Cup legacy work. The light railway there cost $800 million, linking the airport to the city center, was meant to be completed for the games. But up until now, only about half a mile has been finished out of the 14-mile track. The stadium in Natal is trying to make money by hosting kids' parties and weddings with not much luck.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED NEWS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This report asks if the arena is a World Cup legacy or a white elephant? And the much-touted Amazon Arena in Manaus, which costs a whopping $233,000 a month to run, is now also being sold to the private sector, though it was primarily built with public funds. We contacted Leanderson Lima, a sports reporter in Manaus. He says one of the main problems with these four stadiums was that they were built in places with no strong local football teams to support them.

LEANDERSON LIMA: (Through interpreter) The local league games have very low attendance, and it costs a lot of money to put games on at the arena. So in Manaus nowadays, local team matches actually take place in two training centers, not in the World Cup Stadium.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jose Cruz is a sports reporter for Universo Online, and he lives in Brasilia. He says the stadium there fits 70,000 people. The idea was that big concerts could be a money spinner for the venue.

JOSE CRUZ: (Through interpreter) The famous band Kiss is doing a tour in the region. They came to Brasilia, but they didn't do the concert inside the stadium. They did it outside because of the high costs. That shows how ill-prepared the government is to manage a big sports venue and transform it into a source of revenue.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In Brazil, it's so well acknowledged now how disastrous the World Cup legacy was for the country that the current sports minister, in an interview with Reuters, actually promised this - unlike the World Cup, the Olympics will leave a legacy. That remains to be seen. That event is also over budget and behind schedule. Jose Cruz says instead of a source of pride for the country, many of the stadiums have become a mark of shame, especially as the government is now trying to implement austerity measures amid a sharp economic downturn.

CRUZ: (Through interpreter) I don't see any World Cup legacy to Brazil except the debts we have inherited and the problems.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says we had excellent, spectacular matches on the field and an international gathering that was lauded. But the World Cup is over, and he says we are suffering with everything that came after. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.

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