Known as one of the largest football stadiums in the world, the
Maracana, in Rio de Janeiro, has been the site of the World Cup,
the opening ceremonies for the Pan American Games, concerts by Tina
Turner, Prince, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones to name a
few of the most famous and the Meeting with Families during Pope
John Paul II's last visit to Brazil. Although the stadium has set
world records in the past with attendances at events topping close
to 185,000 spectators, it’s capacity has been reduced over
the years and today, the all-seated capacity is closer to 95,000.
Built in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup, the stadium opened as
the ”Estadio Municipal”. After the death of the founder
of Rio de Janeiro’s daily newspaper, however, goverment officials
renamed it ”Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho”
in his honor. Over the years, locals have simply referred to the
venue as Estádio do Maracanã or just Maracana, after
the river that runs nearby – it is by this name that the stadium
is known and referred to by the rest of the world. Owned by the
government, the stadium had fallen into disrepair and underwent
renovations that resulted in it’s closure for almost a full
nine months in 2005 and 2006. The stadium was reopened in January
of 2007, played host to the opening ceremonies of the Pan American
Games and is currently hopefully being considered as the location
of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.
The Maracana has long been known as the world’s playground
for many of the world’s most famous football players. It was
here, in the Maracana stadium that Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup
final to Uruguay in the final moments of the game before a world
record crowd of 199,854. It was also at the Maracana that football
giant Pele scored his 1,000 goal and played his final game. It was
on the Marcana field that Brazil recovered to recapture World Cup
titles in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2001. It is believed that throughout
the years, every great football player in Brazil has played at the
Maracana at least once in his career. In addition, the Maracana
is still home to four local football teams, the Flamengo, the Vasco
da Gama, the Fluminense and the Botafogo.
Interesting Maracana Football Stadium Trivia:
· The original plans for the stadium were drawn up by two
Brazilian architects, Raphaël Galvão and Pedro Paulo
· The first stone was laid at the site of the stadium on
August 2nd, 1948.
· The Maracan stadium boasted a sweeping roof that in the
1950’s held the record as the largest cantilevered roof cover
in the world. It actually spanned nearly 30 meters.
· The opening match at the football stadium was a contest
between the Rio de Janeiro All-Stars and the São Paulo All-Stars.
The Rio team won the match 3-1 and Didi was the first player to
score a goal in the new stadium.
· On June 24th, 1950, despite the fact that the facility
was unfinished and lacked a press stand as well as toilet facilities,
the FIFA gave the go ahead for the World Cup.
· The football stadium wasn’t actually completely finished
until 1965, seventeen years after the first stone was laid.
· The world famous Harlem Globetrotters played an exhibition
basketball game in the stadium in 1952.
· On the 30th anniversary of it’s construction, the
stadium was the site of a concert by Frank Sinatra prior to a match
between Brazil and the USSR.There were over 100,000 people in attendance.
· The world record for the biggest paying audience ever
assembled was awarded to Tina Turner for her ”Break Every
Rule” tour that drew 186,000 screaming fans to the stadium
· The record goal tally for the stadium is 333. Zico holds
the record and scored his final goal in 1989 for Flamengo..
· The Maracana was the site of a concert by Paul McCartney
and Wings that set the record for the largest stadium based concert
attendance with an audience of 184,368 in April of 1990.
· Billed as the second edition of ”Rock in Rio”,
a concert featuring Prince, George Micheal, Guns and Roses, INXS
and the New Kids on the Block played the stadium in 1991.
· An upper stand in the football stadium collasped on July
19th of 1992 resulting in the death of three people and injuries
to close to fifty others. After the tragedy, the seating capacity
of the Maracana was greatly reduced and the standing room areas
· In 1993 the football stadium was the location for the
”Girlie Show Tour” by Madonna. Although her ”Confessions”
tour in 2006 was also originally scheduled to return to the Maracana,
it was cancelled.
· The first Spanish speaking act to perform at the Maracana
was the Mexican pop band, RBD. They played to over 70,000 fans.
· Concerts by other famous musicians included Kiss, Sting,
Rush and the Rolling Stones.
When visiting Rio de Janeiro, you may be lucky enough to catch
a concert or other event at the Maracana stadium. If there doesn’t
happen to be an event scheduled, however, don’t despair –
the stadium is usually open daily from 9 am to 5 pm to allow for
visitors. If you’re planning on catching a game, however,
your best bet is to check with your hotel for a schedule of events.
The Maracana is not located in a very safe neighborhood so don’t
travel alone and take a taxi. Most fans sit in the spectators seats
that start at about $3 for a ticket. You’ll enjoy the game
and the culture the most from these seats. You can normally purchase
your tickets at the stadium and don’t really need a guide
if you’re safety conscious.