Judge suspends Brazil stadium privatization

Rio de Janeiro, May 13 (IANS/EFE) A Brazilian judge has suspended the decision to grant a concession for the Maracana stadium to a private consortium headed by Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht, judiciary officials said.

Rio de Janeiro state Judge Gisele de Faria Friday granted a request for an injunction filed by the autonomous Public Prosecutor’s Office of Brazil, or MP, which argued that the Rio state government should not be allowed to sign any concession-related contract until Brazil’s courts can rule on the lawfulness of the process.

Consorcio Maracana S.A. won the rights to manage that iconic and newly renovated Rio de Janeiro stadium – built for the 1950 World Cup – for 35 years starting June 2, when an international soccer friendly between Brazil and England is scheduled to be played, the Rio state government announced Thursday.

The concession could be extended for another 35 years.

Odebrecht holds a 90 percent stake in the consortium, while IMX, the sports and entertainment unit of Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s EBX Group, and Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group have 5 percent each.

The judge accepted the MP’s argument that the process lacked transparency, considering that IMX carried out the study that determined the concession model.

The lawsuit challenges the state government’s authority to grant a private consortium the authority to manage sport-related facilities in the vicinity of Maracana.

That challenge stems from bid specifications requiring the concessionaire to carry out a series of infrastructure projects with an estimated cost of 594 million reais (some $297 million), including a parking lot, an amusement area and two sports museums: one dedicated to soccer and another to the Olympic movement.

To that end, the state government’s conditions authorized the winning bidder to demolish several nearby buildings, including a school, a running track and two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Rio state government has invested nearly 1.12 billion reais (some $560 million) to meet FIFA’s requirements for the stadium, which will host seven matches of next year’s World Cup, including the final, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games.

The final and two other matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, to be held in Brazil from June 15-30, also are scheduled to be played at the Maracana.



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