Brazil says it has deal for seats at WCup stadium
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian organizers have reached an agreement with a seat supplier for the World Cup stadium in Cuiaba, avoiding a new bidding process and reducing the risk of missing the December deadline established by FIFA.
Friday’s announcement comes a day after the state governor admitted for the first time that the stadium’s delivery could be delayed about two weeks.
FIFA has been saying Brazil can’t afford to go through the same types of delays that plagued stadium construction ahead of the Confederations Cup, when only two of the six venues were ready in time.
The initial bidding process for the seats at the 44,000-capacity Arena Pantanal was canceled this month after public prosecutors alleged they were overpriced. The second process was suspended this week because of alleged irregularities with a bidding company.
Organizers said the company Kango Brasil has agreed to lower the prices of the seats, allowing the original bidding process to become valid again. Prosecutors said only one company showed up in the second process and it was not allowed to bid because it allegedly didn’t meet all of the requirements established by local authorities.
The agreement still needs to be signed off by a judge, which is expected to happen in the next few days.
State prosecutors said the new deal will save at least $700,000 in public funds when compared to the initial contract, although they admitted that the pressure of the upcoming FIFA deadline played a role in the negotiations.
“This deal will avoid possible losses if the construction is not delivered within the timetable established by FIFA,” state prosecutor Clovis de Almeida said in a statement.
Prosecutors didn’t allow the first bidding process to go through because the prices charged by Kango at the time were much higher than the ones charged in a similar deal for the World Cup stadium in Brasilia.
Mato Grosso state Gov. Silval Barbosa admitted the possibility or the need of more time to finish the stadium in a press conference on Thursday.
“We are working as hard as possible to deliver the stadium in December,” he said. “But it’s possible that we need a few more days, about 10 to 15, to finalize some details and install some of the seats. We are not worried, though, because we have a comfortable timetable until the World Cup and the test events.”
In another development sure to slow construction, a small fire broke out Friday in the stadium, sending smoke billowing when plastic foam used for insulation caught fire.
The fire produced clouds of black smoke that drifted over the top of the football venue.
No injuries were reported and officials said the fire was quickly contained.
In a statement, officials said the fire was concentrated in an underground part of the venue, but reached an area where polystyrene foam was being stored. The material was to be used for insulation on the stadium’s roof.
FIFA ideally wants three test events to take place in each of the venues before a tournament such as the World Cup, but that didn’t happened in the Confederations Cup this year because of the delays.
Organizers said the new seats for the Cuiaba stadium must be delivered by Dec. 20 in order to be installed in time. According to the original timetable, the installation of the seats was supposed to start earlier this month. The Arena Pantanal was 85 percent completed at the end of September.
Despite saying it will not accept delays in the remaining six World Cup stadiums under construction, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has said there is no Plan B regarding the venues and none will be replaced or excluded because of delays. He said changes can’t be made now because ticket sales have already started.
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