USA vs. Belgium stadium primer: Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova
Maybe it is Salvador’s only natural spring resting in view from the open south-end horseshoe that has World Cup teams bubbling with goals, but Arena Fonte Nova hasn’t hosted a group-stage game with a margin closer than two goals. And two of the four games played there already have had four-goal margins.
Visiting Salvador has proven a lopsided affair so far, but Tuesday’s round of 16 contest between the U.S. and Belgium need not call on group-stage history in a stadium that opened in spring 2013.
The 55,000-seat venue in the popular northeast coastal region of Brazil has a distinct aesthetic with a self-cleaning, see-through roof and the way it unfolds toward the natural environment. The bowl-style seating opens on the south end, offering views of the city’s only natural spring, Tororó Dyke. The hue of the stadium’s green seats were even chosen as a reference to Tororó Dyke.
The original Fonte Nova, built in 1951 and also with a view to the south, was imploded on site in August 2010 to make way for the new stadium. Construction crews reused the demolished stadium’s materials as part of the 11 acres of concrete, 5.2 tons of support structure and 1.8 tons of metal.
The lightweight roof is made up of cables and steel trusses covered by a nine-acre waterproof, self-cleaning and see-through canvas fabric that allows light through while filtering sun and heat. The roof also collects rainwater, transferring it to an 184,000-gallon storage system for reuse, such as flushing toilets and watering the pitch.
The 97,000 square foot pitch—about 32 feet from the stands—features Bermuda Celebration grass specifically designed to hold up to rough use in warm climates.
Hosting the U.S. vs. Belgium won’t be the last hurrah for Arena Fonte Nova. After first playing host to the Netherlands defeating Spain by four goals, Germany trouncing Portugal by four goals, France pounding Switzerland by three goals and Bosnia outlasting Iran by a pair of goals, the stadium will host its sixth and final contest on July 5 as the Netherlands returns to play Costa Rica.
First, though, we’ll see on Tuesday if the spring waters of Tororó Dyke offer up another lopsided result.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.