One of the first adventures that the Brazil Winter Term 2005 group made in its journey was to Maracana. Maracana is the Brazilian national soccer stadium and is located in Rio de Janeiro . The stadium was built over the course of 22 months and was finished in time to host World Cup IV in 1950. Maracana became the world's largest soccer stadium of its time upon completion. While the Brazilian national team had the privilege of playing in the World Cup final that year in its native country, they lost to Uruguay . Fortunately, for Brazil and its masses of fans, the team would go on to win five more World Cups, the most of any country to date, over the next 50 years.
The name Maracana comes from a combination of two words in the Tupi indigenous language. The first word, “maraca”, which means rattle, was combined with the ending “na,” which means like. The word maracana was a name that local tribes had given to parrots whose calls had a sound similar to the rattle. After the completion of Maracana Stadium, the rattle and noise of the fans replaced those of the indigenous parrots.
Building the stadium was one of the biggest human works projects in the history of the city of Rio de Janeiro . Over 11,000 laborers worked on the completion of the stadium with an average of 3,500 men working per day over three shifts. The completion of the stadium took over 8 million man hours of work. To put this in perspective, it would take one man working 6 hours per day 1,860 years to build the stadium. If any man were capable of completing this feat, he would have to have hauled 500,000 bags of cement, 10 tons of iron, 80,000 cubic meters of concrete, 650,000 square meters of timber and 134 million cubic meters of earth into the stadium to complete the task.
Since its inaugural soccer match, in 1950, many amazing games and events have taken place on this sacred field. Great players such as Garrincha, Zico, Roberto Dinamite, Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have played matches at Maracana Stadium. It was at Maracana Stadium that Pele scored his 1,000 th career goal in 1969 as well as where he played his last game and gave his farewell to the people of Brazil .
Brazilians have flocked to Maracana Stadium over the years in order to watch their heroes perform. It has hosted the largest ever recorded crowd for a soccer game, which was the 1950 World Cup final match between Brazil and Uruguay . 199,854 people attended this match. Due to safety and security reasons the capacity was lowered substantially. The renovation undertaken in 2000 vastly improved the comfort and quality levels of fans enjoying the Maracana experience.
By 2000, during the stadiums revamp, the capacity was lowered to a mere 80,000 spectators. A new and improved permanent staff was added to work the stadium during this renovation. To add to this, the city of Rio spent large amounts of money on electronics to bring the decaying stadium into the 21 st century. State of the art equipment and technology was added including high tech speakers, cameras and reflectors in order to monitor the crowd during games and events.
The Hall of Fame in Maracana Stadium was also introduced during this revamp when the stadium celebrated its 50 th birthday. Over 50 famous Brazilian players such as Carlos Alberto Torres, Pele, Pepe Renato Gaucho, Rivelino, Tele and Zagallo have had their footprints molded in cement in this hall. Many of the Elon students took advantage of this photo opportunity and stood in Pele's and other great players imprints.
In addition to soccer matches, Maracana Stadium has hosted many successful cultural, religious and musical events. Famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Tina Turner, Sting, Prince, Santana and the city's Rock in Rio Festival. The stadium has twice hosted Pope John Paul II and attracted 220,000 people for the Evangelistic Crusade of Billy Graham.
During the 2000 renovation, which was undertaken by the state government of Rio de Janeiro , Maracana was turned into a Cultural and Sports Center in order to attract more visitors. The Maracana Sports Complex is currently taking in new investments annually from the Rio de Janeiro government in order to prepare for the 2007 Pan-American Games. The stadium will host both the opening and closing ceremonies in addition to soccer matches during the course of the games. To add to this, volleyball matches will be also played next door to the main Maracana Stadium at the smaller Maracanazinho multi-sports facility.
Upon entering the stadium the students of Elon were able to enjoy a guided tour of the Hall of Fame. The stadium was set up to give you the best experience possible of what it might be like to be a player in Brazil during a game. The students were allowed to tour the locker room and shower areas before walking down the corridor that led to the field. Huge speakers blasted the noise of thousands of cheering fans as the students ran up onto the field to show what it sounds like for a player to enter the field during a sold out game.
The tour of Maracana Stadium is no longer just for sight seeing. It has become a real life experience. The renovations undertaken by the city have moved the stadium into the 21 st and have placed Rio de Janeiro back on the map as one of the cultural hubs of Brazil .