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Novel use for Brazil World Cup stadium

Amid fears that many of Brazil’s World Cup venues will become white elephants when the tournament is finished, one enterprising city has proposed a novel use for their stadium.

Brazil is readying 12 stadiums for next year’s World Cup, and several — including the new stadium in Manaus — will be little used after the tournament.

Millions took to the streets to protest against the spending billions on next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in a country where many languish in extreme poverty and where spending on education and welfare is recognised as being inadequate.

Alvaro Corado, spokesman for the Amazonas state court system, told The Associated Press that Judge Sabino Marques had proposed an intriguing idea.

“He would, perhaps, suggest to the government of the state of Amazonas that the stadium be used as a processing centre for prisoners after the World Cup,” Corado said, quoting Marques.

Marques, coincidentally (or not), is also the president of a group that monitors the prison system in the state.

The new 44,000-seat stadium in Manaus, being built at a cost of $275 million, will host only four World Cup matches. The city of 2.3 million has no team in Brazil’s first or second division, and little footballing tradition.

FIFA requires only eight stadiums for the World Cup, but Brazil decided to have 12 — under pressure from politicians who used the construction projects to provide jobs and political loyalty. Bribery, in other words.

Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has defended the legacy of the stadiums as “centres for sports and non-sports events” and has suggested they would be places for conventions, shows and fairs.

Other Brazilians officials have said cities will need to be creative to find uses for the stadiums.

Jose Maria Marin, the president of the Brazilian Football Federation, said earlier this year that finding uses for some stadiums after the World Cup will “all depend on the creativity, the imagination of the owners and the operators of these stadiums. It will depend on the imagination of each leader.”

In terms of creativity and imagination, the proposal for Manaus cannot be faulted. Indeed, if there are repeats of the widespread protests that swept brazil during the Confederations Cup, then the dual purpose stadium may prove invaluable.