Arena Corinthians now Neo Química Arena


Brasil Arena Corinthians Image: Arena Corinthians

Brazilian pharmaceutical company Neo Química is the new naming-rights sponsor of Arena Corinthians, home of São Paulo-based football team Corinthians. Starting now, Corinthians will play at Neo Química Arena for the next 20 years. Two decades is among the longest deals to be signed globally and the longest in Brazil.

Arena Corinthians is a football stadium constructed in Itaquera, near the City of São Paulo, Brazil. The stadium can hold up to 48,000 people.

Rafael Gustavo Silva, Planning & Ticketing, Arena Corinthians, Brazil, is a Member of Coliseum, Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The deal was officially announced on Monday to mark Corinthians’ 110th anniversary celebrations. The agreement will be worth R$300m (£41m/€46m/$55m) over 20 years and the venue has been officially renamed as Neo Química Arena.

Corinthians confirmed that Neo Química will provide annual instalments worth R$15m. Neo Química is owned by Hypera Pharma (largest pharmaceutical company in Brazil) and earlier served as a Corinthians shirt sponsor between 2009 and 2012.

The newly named Neo Química Arena has a capacity of 49,000 and opened ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, where it hosted six fixtures including the opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Observed Ana Biguilin, General Director at Neo Química, “Neo Química is present throughout Brazil and, with quality medicines, offers health to all Brazilians. Where there is sport, there are health, and the long-term partnership with Corinthians will bring us even closer to our consumers. We are happy to make this partnership possible at such a remarkable moment for the club and its fans, which is the celebration of the 110th anniversary.”

The launch event for the newly named stadium was a dazzling one with lights, fireworks and music show. No fans were allowed in the stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions which has thumped Brazil hard. But, the event was streamed live on YouTube.

Mired in controversy

Ever since its architectural concept was first presented, the stadium became subject to huge controversy. Not just aesthetically but also because it ‘stole’ the spotlight from the iconic Morumbi Stadium in Brazil as opening venue of the 2014 World Cup.

It was later said that FC Sao Paulo was better off not staging the FIFA spectacle as Corinthians are now groaning under contractual obligations to pay their stadium off.

But, with the naming rights ceremony on Monday, the stadium-related burden will become much easier to handle.

Neo Química Arena

Corinthians were attempting to build a new facility since late twentieth century, but their four consecutive designs had to be dropped without going forward. It wasn’t until Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup that the chance became real. Despite FIFA first agreeing on much larger but outdated Morumbi, it was later approved that a new stadium should be built. Shifting from the first one to a new Corinthians stadium was subject to controversy.

Preparatory works at the hills of Itaquera, eastern district with railway depots around, began in May 2011. Already then the stadium was considered at risk of missing delivery deadlines. Financial woes and two tragic accidents later on led to huge delays, in excess of six months. As a result, despite three pilot runs in May 2014, the stadium was left unfinished for the 2014 World Cup.

Designed by CDC Arquitetos, the stadium also presented arguable aesthetics and functionality of some features, fueling debate before groundbreaking. The sharp, angular form was sometimes criticized, while the roof, hanging over 30 meters over both end stands, turned out ineffective in protecting some of the spectators from the elements.

However, the original design made the stadium tower over all others built for the sporting showpiece and in fact among stadia built around the globe. Measuring 267x228x43 meters, the stadium is covered in white cladding – in the West its non-transparent glass, in the East it’s a system of blinds with 3,100sqm LED screen integrated into it, while the remainder is covered with composites.

Both end stands were left with only one tier and the high roof left a lot of room for expansion. This was used for the World Cup, allowing adding over 20,000 temporary seats. At peak, the stands have nine floors that comprise 3 floors of underground parking, hospitality spaces for up to 10,000 people, club offices, convention center and the entire press infrastructure required. The West grandstand offers four large suites (81-84 people) and 85 smaller skyboxes (12-27 people).

The project is considered project, with the majority financial injection being put in by the Corinthians. However, serious allegations accompanied the preferential conditions of crediting by the public sector. Early estimates suggested it would consume roughly R$ 820 million, of which 400 million would be federal funding. Final cost isn’t known yet, but is considered to be nearing R$ 1 billion.

Apart from Corinthians games and the 2014 World Cup the stadium was also selected for football part of the 2016 Olympics, also being designed to hold other entertainment events. It wasn’t until 2020 that Corinthians managed to seal a naming rights partnership. But once the deal was signed, it’s one for 20 long years, during which the venue will be known as Neo Química Arena.

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