As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, renovations to the Maracana, an infamous soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, are pricing out the city's poor. Some say the work is killing one of the city's few egalitarian public places.
"That general admission area known as the geral has steadily disappeared. The stadium's official capacity of 173,000 was more than halved during preparations for the 1999 FIFA Club World Cup, when the Maracanã was converted to an all-seater, in which every patron has a seat. For the 2007 Pan American Games, the general admission area was closed off, as is the entire stadium today. Its capacity - some say more than 200,000 crammed in for the 1950 final, a heartbreaking loss to Uruguay - will be just 76,525 when the renovated Maracanã reopens in 2013 to host the Confederations Cup, the World Cup's dress rehearsal. Those renovations will cost more than $600 million, according to the state's Office of Public Works, but they were not entirely welcomed.
'It's just one reform after another without anyone ever doing any kind of research as to what the people who actually use the stadium want,' said Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor of urbanism at the Federal University in Fluminense in the state of Rio de Janeiro. "
A group of fans has formed an activist group opposing the project, and seeking more say in how the city and country prepare for these major sporting events.
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