A Brazilian judge has proposed that Manaus’ Amazonia Arena be used as a prisoner processing centre after the 2014 FIFA World Cup, amid fears that the facility could become a ‘white elephant’.
The 44,000-seat facility, developed at a cost of US$275 million, will host four group games during next year’s tournament. However, with the capital of the Amazonas region having no team in Brazil’s top two divisions or being renowned as a hotbed of the sport, the future of the facility has come under the scrutiny of the public and politicians.
Manaus Judge Sabino Marques has now said the stadium, along with another venue used to celebrate the annual carnival, could be used to ease the strain on the overcrowded public jail. “I see no other better place, even temporarily, to receive detainees in Manaus,” Marques, president of the watchdog group tasked with monitoring the prison system in the Amazon region, said, according to Bloomberg. He also suggested prisoners be processed at a venue used to celebrate the annual carnival. “Until the state can solve the problem by building new prisons then these two empty spaces should be used.”
Amazon state officials have declined to comment, saying that a formal proposal had not been made. Manaus’ World Cup venue is not the only one to come under fire. Speaking earlier this month, Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo was forced to maintain that Natal’s Estadio das Dunas will not become a white elephant following the tournament. The Estadio das Dunas will also host four group stage games having been rebuilt on the site of the old stadium to a capacity of 42,000. This capacity will be scaled back to 32,000 following the tournament, but question marks have been asked of its long-term viability. The three leading teams in the North Eastern city, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte state, are ABC, Alecrim and America, who last appeared in Brazil’s Serie A in 1985, 1986 and 2007 respectively.