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By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - One of Brazil’s sparkling new 2014 World Cup stadiums has been closed for urgent building work less than a year after it opened.
The Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba will be shut for “emergency repairs to resolve diverse construction problems with the aim of offering safety to users,” the state government that owns the stadium said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that officials had visited the 600 million reals ($233.07 million) venue and noted that “immediate construction repairs are necessary”.
Officials said some elevators and air conditioning broke down and that seasonal wet weather had caused water to leak through the roof.
Although Cuiaba is used to almost daily downpours in the rainy season “the (architectural) project did not take the strong rains into account,” state secretary of strategic projects Gustavo de Oliveira told Reuters.
Initial repairs are to start this week and the stadium will be reopened for three months between February and May because state championship games will be held there and heavy rain makes building work difficult.
The government said it had contacted builders Construtora Mendes Junior and hoped by mid-February to know how long the repairs would take.
Brazil held the World Cup last year for the first time since 1950 and Cuiaba was one of the most controversial of the 12 host cities, in part because it does not host a top-flight football team.
Local authorities failed to build the tram system they promised for the city and the Arena Pantanal was one of the last of the venues to be handed over.
There was added concern over its readiness following a fire there in October 2012.
Officials said the fire was not serious but Reuters saw an unpublished report by local prosecutors that said the blaze caused “structural damage” that “could compromise the overall stability of the construction”.
The 41,000-seater arena hosted four matches in the World Cup.
The state government recently announced plans to lease the arena to a private consortium, tacitly acknowledging financial difficulties in administering the ground.
The closure came just days before the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is due to reopen after two years of repair work.
That ground was opened in 2007 before being closed in 2012 after engineers said the roof was in danger of collapse.
$1 = 2.5743 Brazilian Reals Editing by Mike Collett