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With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off, all eyes are on Brazil – particularly its tropical, former capital Rio de Janeiro, home to the iconic Maracanã Stadium, which has recently been renovated for the tournament.
This year, Brazilians will be hoping that footballing history does not repeat itself. Maracanã – or Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho to give it its full name – was built in 1950 when Brazil last hosted the World Cup. The home team went on to lose 2-1 to Uruguay in the final at Maracanã, marking one of the most dramatic and bitter upsets in the game’s history.
The stadium will be in the limelight once again during Brazil 2014, hosting seven games in all, including the final on 13 July – more than any other venue.
In preparation for the competition, a serious amount of work has been done on modernizing the stadium and bringing it up to the standard required by FIFA regulations. Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, whose notable achievements include Miami International Airport and California’s Seven Oaks Dam, won the bidding rights to reform the Maracanã.
Odebrecht has worked with Volvo heavy machinery for the last seven years, since Volvo Construction Equipment opened its first factory in Brazil. Silvio Vilarim Ramos Junior, Equipment Manager at Odebrecht’s Rio branch, oversaw the reconstruction of the stadium, employing seven Volvo vehicles in all – six Volvo EC210B excavators and one Volvo MC90 skid steer loader.
When asked what differentiates Volvo from other heavy machinery brands, Ramos says: “Competitive price, reliability, high productive performance, good mechanical availability and low fuel consumption ensuring that you produce for less, therefore increasing competitiveness.”
Once the largest stadium in the world, packing in crowds of up to 200,000, the Maracanã has a much-reduced capacity now but remains the country’s largest football venue.
While respecting the original layout of the stadium, refurbishment included demolition of the lower ring of seats, construction of a new ring offering better visibility, more access ramps – allowing evacuation of the stadium in eight minutes – and replacement of all the seating.
“In particular, the Volvo machines were essential for the removal of debris and excavation of the seating. The EC210B excavators were great tools for this job,” says Ramos.
The stadium was also fitted with a new roof complete with a rainwater collection system. The facade, which has been listed by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, remains untouched.
“When working on the Maracanã, our greatest challenge was to maintain the stadium’s iconic facade,” explains Ramos. “As a result, we needed machines capable of performing demanding lifting duties on the equipment and supplies.”
As Rio’s second most popular tourist attraction after the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Maracanã continued to welcome football fans from all over the world, even during renovation. Visitors to the stadium watched the work in progress from the Torre de Vidro (Glass Tower), built especially for the occasion, and could even take a piece of the old stadium home as a souvenir.
With a significant amount of public money being spent on the work (R$1 billion – US$430 million/€310 million) the sustainability of the project came under intense scrutiny. Ramos says that to ensure maximum sustainability, Odebrecht worked according to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines.
ON THE BALL
“We managed to reuse a lot of the waste from the renovation in the new construction – saving on natural resources and energy and therefore reducing costs,” he continues.
The new Maracanã opened its doors when England played Brazil in a friendly match in a prelude to the Confederations Cup in June 2013. Ramos is convinced Volvo CE played a large part in the success of the renovations.
“On site we encounter problems. Machines break down – that’s inevitable. But with Volvo, if repairs or replacements are needed they are made available to the consumer quickly and easily – which means we don’t lose time. This reflects the company’s commitment to its customers and makes the Volvo brand well regarded by users and operators alike in the heavy equipment market.”