Timelapse: World Cup Edition!

Google Earth views of Brazil’s Arena da Amazonia in Manaus.  From left to right:  2001, 2011, 2014.
An old, 21,000 seat stadium was torn down to build the new, 42,000 seat arena.

Maybe you’re an avid World Cup follower, sporting your favorite team’s colors under your work clothes.  Maybe you’re not.  Either way, you’ve probably seen something about the”greening” and “sustainability” of World Cup Brazil.  FIFA has been devoting A LOT of PR to these ideas, but even Forbes is calling some of it ‘greenwashing’.

One of the more controversial stadiums is Arena Amazonia in Manaus. Located on the Amazon River, Manaus has a population of two million people surrounded by approximately two million square miles of rainforest.  A 19th century rubber boom caused population growth in this region. Timelapse shows more recent growth in Manaus (including what looks like a new bridge or causeway) thanks to a free trade zone offering tax incentives for manufacturing.

While it is great that the stadium sports some cool green tech, as a skytruther and a soccer (ahem, football) fan, I’ve got to wonder if it was worth the impacts and construction nightmares of building it IN the Amazon.  With growing World Cup fever and recent coverage of just these issues by the Washington Post, we thought we’d “kick” things off a little early this week with “Wayback Wednesday” instead of Throwback Thursday (#TBT).

Playing soccer in the middle of the rainforest is tough (80+ degrees with 80+% humidity), but building in this region proved even tougher.  Most of the materials had to be shipped up the Amazon, and a sizeable part of the stadium was shipped all the way from Portugal.  Workers fought with high humidity that allegedly caused steel to buckle (?!) and three people died during the construction efforts.

All this for a 42,000 seat stadium that will be the home to only four World Cup games.  That’s right…nearly $300 million dollars for four games.  After that, the stadium’s will be the home of Nacional, a 4th tier Brazilian league team with an average attendance of 1,000 fans (Manaus isn’t exactly known for fanatical football culture). So like other big sporting complexes we’ve skytruthed recently, (think the Winter Olympics in Sochi) we have to wonder what the future holds for these big construction projects.

And, if you’re curious to see the stadium be sure to watch the Group of Death match between the US and Portugal on June 22nd.

Want to do some World Cup skytruthing of your own?  Check out Natal and Cuiaba!