Or at least was yesterday, when blue light was shooting high in the sky, covering Porto Alegre's skyline. Blue light from a stadium that has blue roof, blue seats, blue facades, blue floors and walls...
Rivalry between Grêmio and Internacional is a century-long one, but for a few years the competition was one about new stadiums as well. Inter presented their vision of redeveloped Estadio Beira-Rio in 2007, Grêmio followed with their completely new arena plan in 2009.
Both clubs intended to fund their grounds privately before Brazil was even granted the right to hold 2014 World Cup. But when Beira-Rio was announced Porto Alegre's only venue for the tournament, Grêmio officials declared to finish their ground before local rivals (in fact, before any other World Cup stadium) to prove they shouldn't have been forgotten during selection.
Work on both stadiums in the city started in 2010, but Inter had the difficulty of using their ground while works were ongoing, while “Tricolor” had their venue available and worked at a different site. Then Internacional lost their contractor, construction stopped and in the end they've got their venue half-way rebuilt, while Grêmio just opened theirs. Just like they said – ahead of all 2014 projects.
For decades both clubs were nearly neighbours as despite the metropolis having nearly 3 million inhabitants their stadia were less than 2km apart. Since last night this isn't the case any more as “Tricolor” left their Olimpico Monumental for the arena several kilometres north, near the airport. That's where the club plan on building extensive hotel and conference infrastructure to strengthen their position.
In just over 2 years the new complex's heart was built with stands divided into 4 tiers (two in the middle being small business balconies) and accommodating 60,540 people (some 57,000 without standing). So far without a sponsor, the stadium should be an attractive opportunity as Brazil's most modern (at this time) and home to one of the most renowned teams.
The design is a rather simple one with seating and roof having rounded-rectangle blueprint and the offices built around them – round one. But thanks to efforts by Sao Paulo's Plarq Arquitetura and club officials who consulted supporters on the design, the stadium already has quite some identity. On one hand the corporate tiers with 135 skyboxes will provide extra revenues, but on the other a single standing section for 'Geral' fanatics will supply proper atmosphere. It was specially strengthened to withstand the crowd all falling down, because Grêmio fans tend to do this after every goal:
Then there's the blue colour that added to white and black elements creates the famous “Tricolor” combination. Blue glass on roof and facade cladding. Blue seats, blue walls and floors – you can find it everywhere.
This may be just details, but those details make a difference between a rather uncharacteristic stadium that follows most trends and one that builds its identity and is exciting from the very first day. And last, but not least – one that wasn't all too expensive as well. The arena cost R$540 million (€200m, $260m).
Opening with a bang
The game against HSV, commemorating previous fixture from 1983, ended 2:1 for the host side. But build-up for the event lasted a few days. Last game at Olimpico was the 'Grenal' derby and despite there being no goals, this wasn't a bad result. Especially that goalposts from the stadium were lifted afterwards and carried to the new stadium. Maybe not after a victory, but with no goals scored by Internacional as well...
Prior to the game Grêmio also prepared artistic performances, fireworks and a night-time illumination in blue seen throughout the city, also by those who weren't particularly happy with the opening...