Chicago Sports Complex, Chicago, United States

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In reality, the 1994 FIFA World Cup kicked-off at Soldier Field on Chicago’s lakefront. In an alternate universe, it could have instead begun at the proposed never-built stadium above, a little further to the west in the Windy City. This remarkable proposal featured a sliding roof between neighboring baseball and NFL stadiums at what was to be known as the Chicago Sports Complex. This is the latest in our lost stadium plans series.

This 1985 proposal by renowned Chicago architectural giants Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was a serious proposal that garnered considerable press attention at the time. The $240 million plan by what the Chicago Tribune described as a “group of high-powered Chicago business leaders” (including Sears) would have covered 42 acres by Chicago’s central Loop district, bounded by Clinton Street to the east, Lake Street to the south, Halsted Street to the west and the Chicago and North Western`s east-west rail tracks on the north.

The sliding roof would have allowed natural grass to be installed at both stadiums, with the Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs all approached to play at the Chicago Sports Complex. Bears president Mike McCaskey told the Tribune he was “intrigued” by the idea. The Bears ultimately renovated Soldier Field in the early 2000s, while the White Sox built a new stadium near their-then home Comiskey Park, opened in 1991. The Cubs, of course, still play at Wrigley Field on Chicago’s north side.

The proposed American football stadium would have had a capacity of 78,000: www.asbuss.com

The roof was designed to stand between the stadiums on non-gamedays, to help the grass grow. According to the Tribune, “A partial canopy would extend over the north and south edges of the stadiums, suspended from 12 huge columns similar to the support system for the McCormick Place annex. A dome of tensioned fabric could slide on a track on the inner edge of each canopy.”

Importantly, the Chicago Sports Complex would have kept all three teams in the city limits – indeed, even closer to downtown – at a time when it seemed at least one might be lost to the suburbs, with all three then in discussions with various suburban locations.

By 1986, the stadium’s proposed location had moved from west of the loop to the lakefront, replacing Soldier Field with a larger development extending to McCormick Place, with baseball now taken out of the equation – a proposal that outraged lakefront preservationists, but won support from Chicago mayor Harold Washington. ibola55.net

The architects working on the project were Bruce Graham and Helmut Jahn. Graham, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 84, had a remarkable Chicago architectural career– he designed the SearsWillis Tower, the Hancock Tower and was the force behind another fantastical project never built in Chicago, plans for the 1992 World’s Fair.

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Baku Olympic Stadium, Azerbaijan

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In Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan, a 65,000 stadium is under construction that will be the home for the nation’s football team. It’s known as the Baku Olympic Stadium, due to the country’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

The stadium’s design is supposed to evoke the Olympic rings, with the five parts to the fragmented outer shell able to illuminate in the Olympic colors.

The stadium’s interior, designed by Turkish architectural firm Toca, features a curved two tier structure. Though being built to FIFA standards, it of course features a running track for the Olympic bid.

Some of the most striking parts of the complex’s design are actually outside the main stadium itself, particularly the information center: ibet888 asia

Funding for the project comes from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), one of the world’s richest companies. SOCAR is headquartered in Baku, nestled onto the Caspian Sea.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of construction, with completion of Baku’s Olympic Stadium currently anticipated in 2015.

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Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

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FIFA announced last week that Arena Pernambuco, a new 46,154 capacity stadium under construction in the city of Recife, Brazil, will host five games at the 2014 World Cup – four group stage games and one round of 16 matchup.

Recife is located in the northeast of Brazil, the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. It’s the capital city of the state of Pernambuco, and hence the stadium’s name.

The anticipated cost of the stadium, designed by Brazilian architect Daniel Fernandes, is around $300 million, and is part of a larger development project that also includes restaurants, shops, cinemas and 6,000 parking spaces in an area about 12 miles from Recife’s waterfront downtown.

Rising construction costs and delays led to a recent FIFA inspection, and Recife was one of two cities out of six selected for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup given “conditional” status for the competition, pending completion of work that has been slow-paced until recent months. In response, the governor of Pernambuco, Eduardo Campos, “guaranteed”the stadium’s completion in time for the Confederations Cup – one that won’t be helped by ongoing labor disputes at the construction site.

Brazilian company Odebrecht is responsible for the stadium’s construction, along with the remodeling of the Maracanã Stadium and reconstruction of Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador amongst its work on the 2014 World Cup venues. Funding is coming jointly from Odebrecht and the Pernambuco state government.

Once complete, the stadium will be managed by AEG, the first of two inroads into Brazil via the World Cup for the giant American company. It will then become the home of Clube Náutico Capibaribe.

Here’s a time lapse video of the work on the stadium’s construction up to mid-August this year sbobet stadium

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Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá, Brazil

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Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá, the capital city of Brazilian state Mato Grosso, will host four games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, all in the group stage.

Cuiabá is located at pretty much the bullseye on a map of South America.

Currently under construction, Arena Pantanal will have a capacity of 42,500 for the 2014 World Cup.

Interestingly, the stadium’s construction is aiming to be carbon neutral, with one measure towards this goal coming with 1.4 million trees to be planted along the tributary rivers of the Pantanal wetland system, in order to offset the 711,000 tonnes of carbon to be emitted during the stadium’s construction.

The trees in the corners above are another element of the stadium’s green credentials: the stadium’s landscaping has already included the planting of 3,200 trees, and the stadium is one of four of Brazil’s twelve 2014 World Cup venues aiming to receive LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Arena Pantanal is being built on the site of the city’s now-demolished Verdão stadium, a 40,000 capacity venue opened in 1976. Here’s the demolition of its towers.

Following the World Cup, the plan is to downsize Arena Pantanal to a 28,000 capacity venue more suited for tenancy by one or more of the local clubs in Cuiabá, none of whom play in Brazil’s top division.

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São Paulo Arena, São Paulo, Brazil

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Continuing our tour of 2014 World Cup stadia, we head today to São Paulo, and look at the stadium in which the World Cup will kick-off in Brazil. It will be known as São Paulo Arena for the World Cup, with naming rights otherwise still to be determined. 

It will also be the permanent home for famed Brazilian team Corinthians; following the World Cup, it will be downsized from a 68,000 capacity to 48,000, a more suitable size for the club who currently play at the 40,000 capacity Estádio do Pacaembu. The temporary seats fit into the gaps at either endline shown in the renderings. Here’s how it will work:

The new stadium is being built at a cost of $483 million in Itaquera, a district in the east of São Paulo. Financing is private for the bulk of the cost, excluding the temporary seating.

The selection of São Paulo Arena to host the World Cup’s opening game has not come without controversy. It’s not ideal for host nation Brazil, who will then head northeast to Fortaleza for their second game and play their third game in Brasilia – covering 2,436 miles traveling between the three cities, though that’s hardly São Paulo’s fault.

The new stadium’s design, by Anibal Coutinho, has not blown many people away as a stage for the World Cup to open at: functionally attractive it might be, stunning – not particularly, in my view at least.

Let’s take a look at the progress of construction so far, a perennial concern for most of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup builds. The start of construction was delayed as modifications to the design were made so that the stadium met not only FIFA’s general requirements to be a World Cup venue, but to meet the specific criteria to be an opening game arena, including the need for capacity to exceed 65,000. Work began only in May 2011, but big strides have been made quickly, as the below recent photos from the stadium’s construction company Odebrecht show

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