City: Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Cost: R965 million (US$430 million)
Over budget: 15%
Google Maps location: here
The Arena de Sao Paulo has become the poster child for the construction scheduling problems that the stadium projects in this world cup have experienced. Built from the ground up, it will not be ready for the World Cup even though FIFA required all of the stadiums to be open and several test events held by December 31, 2013. FIFA’s seating capacity requirement for the opening ceremonies and first game is 65,000, but the Arena de Sao Paulo will only provide 61,606, some of it via temporary seating.
Three workers were killed in two separate incidents during the construction of the stadium. Two were killed when a crane collapsed in November 2013, and one in March 2014 after falling from a stand. This almost certainly held up the work but even for a complete work stoppage lasting several weeks, it would not alter the critical path enough to force it to miss the event.
The bigger project management issue is clearly the waffling by the Brazilian host committee as to where the Sao Paulo events would be held. The original venue was not the Arena de Sao Paulo. It was at an established, older stadium that was rejected by FIFA in 2011. The Arena de Sao Paulo was under construction at the time, and the decision was made to move the World Cup 2014 events to it. The stadium design needed some modifications and the schedule was tightened, but clearly in retrospect the schedule constraints were simply not able to be overcome. The crane collapse in November 2013 certainly played a major role in construction delays, but it serves as a reminder of what can happen when there is no margin for error in the schedule.
This project will be a project management case study for years to come.
- December 1978: Corinthians football club announce plans for a 201,000 seat stadium at the site, which was owned by the City of Sao Paulo. Plans are soon shelved due to lack of funding.
- October 2007: Brazil is awarded the right to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Sao Paulo venue selected for the opening ceremony and first game is envisioned for Morumbi Stadium, not the Arena de Sao Paulo.
- June 14, 2010: The private owners of Morumbi Stadium reject improvements required for the FIFA World Cup. The organizing committee begin looking for an alternative site.
- August 31, 2010: Corinthians announces plans for a 49,234-seat stadium at the site at an estimated cost of R335 million ($US 149 million).
- October 10, 2011: FIFA accepts the Arena Corinthians as the official venue for the 2014 World Cup. It will be called the Arena de Sao Paulo for the event.
- July 19, 2011: A new contract is signed with Odebrecht to build the stadium, at a new cost of R820 million (US $365 million).
- November 27, 2013: A crane collapses while carrying a portion of the east roof. Two workers are killed. Cranes are inspected and deemed fit for use 16 days later.
- February 13, 2014: Significant amendments are made to the project.
- April 15, 2014: The stadium is delivered to the Corinthians football club.
- May 18, 2014: The first test event is held, a competitive league match between Corinthians and Figueirense. The attendance is only about 40,000 because of incomplete temporary bleachers.
- May 20, 2014: The stadium is handed over the FIFA for the 2014 World Cup.
- June 1, 2014: A second test event is held. The attendance is still only 40,000 out of a complete 61,606. FIFA was only able to hold two test events instead of the normal three, and without full capacity.
Project Management Failures
- I just want to mention that the major failure here doesn’t appear to be on the project management level, but rather the project financing and planning level. The Brazilian government appears to be the site owner and party to stadium construction. The world cup organizing committee originally chose a stadium whose owners were unwilling to commit the funds to renovate, and the government was unwilling to commit funds to a private facility either. Politics played a role as several members of the Corinthians football club were involved with the organizing committee and may have wanted a new stadium for the club. Thus, although Brazil was awarded the world cup in 2007, the issue of where to hold the opening ceremonies was not resolved until 2010. Financing was not in place until 2013, although construction was well underway at that point. So it appears that political issues and foot dragging handcuffed the project management team from the get-go. The end result was a schedule that left impossibly little room for error.
- Speaking of room for error, the collapse of a crane carrying a section of the roof in November 2013 (7 months before the opening ceremonies) was an event the project schedule was never able to bear. The official construction delay was 16 days, but obviously a new section of roof needed to be fabricated and constructed. In March 2014, a worker fell from a work platform and was killed, creating a second delay. The investigation into that fatality is still ongoing so I am not in a position to judge (initial reaction suggests it was the worker’s fault), but the safety missteps are somewhat concerning here. Was there an adequate safety plan in place? Was it being followed or was the schedule a higher priority? This project could well become the poster child for how construction safety has a positive impact on schedule.
So the final assessment is that the project planners left little room for error, and the project management team may have left safety slide in an effort to fast track the project. The safety lapses then ended up as the nail in the “project schedule” coffin.