The other night, I spoke with several Brazilian acquaintances about the prospect for the World Cup 2014. Hoping to get a feel from them about their expectations for preparedness for the crowds and festivities, I opened the conversation by asking about the stadiums.
I’d read an article last week in which Brazil’s sports minister stated his concern that the stadiums wouldn’t be ready in time, and I was curious about what these folks, professionals in the broadcasting business, thought.
Surprisingly, and encouragingly, these folks think the stadiums will be completed “just in time,” and that the games will be held without interruption or problems. I was delighted to hear that, especially since the stadiums have been renovated for the World Cup and look gorgeous in all the photos.
I asked also about the hotel situation, and how the plans were coming along for using cruise ship cabins as temporary hotel rooms. One of the big concerns for FIFA officials is that there won’t be rooms enough for all the visitors to the World Cup.
My new acquaintances weren’t sure about the dock development in Rio, and whether or not it was keeping apace, but they pointed out than many Brazilians are willing to rent their homes, or rooms in their homes, to house visitors. That could be an excellent deal, along with rental homes available through VRB or Home-Away. There’s no way to get enough hotels built to house everyone (and hotel room prices are skyrocketing), so this private enterprise might be the best option.
My advice for anyone planning to come: get your lodgings settled now. They’re going to go quickly.
The greatest concern voiced at dinner was that the airports wouldn’t be ready to handle the crowds, though the new terminal at Guarulhos is due to be completed in April next year, and Rio’s airports aren’t equipped to handle the onslaught that is expected.
Airline travel will be major factor, as fans try first to get into Brazil, and then try to get to any of the 12 locations where the games will be held. There will be a new terminal in Sao Paulo, but still the one main road leading to the airport, which even now can be backed up, necessitating leaving your home some four hours before the flight’s designated departure time.
Given the condition of the roads outside of many cities, Brazil certainly doesn’t want millions of visitors driving to the 12 host cities, on two-lane roads in need of repaving. That’s going to be an enormous challenge in a nation without many north-south highways, and few east-west connectors.
Still and all, my new Brazilian acquaintances were upbeat about the World Cup and certain that Brazil can pull off a miracle.
From what I’ve seen, it won’t really matter. Brazilians have a way of making every event a success, simply by dint of who they are and the enthusiasm they bring to every party. Logistics may go to hell in a hand basket, but I’m thinking that World Cup fans will have the time of their lives, just because they’ll be in Brazil. Here’s hoping!