February 05, 2013

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- The company responsible for administering a recently-renovated Brazilian stadium that will host Confederations Cup matches in June has been fined $500,000 for the poor conditions witnessed at the reopening by Brazil's president and its sports minister.

Officials from the state government of Minas Gerais fined the administration company -- Minas Arena -- following a match on Sunday at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte that underwent a $328 million renovation project lasting two and a half years.

Fans at the game between state rivals Cruzeiro and Atletico faced problems with ticketing that led to massive queues. The entrances to parking are narrow and not well marked - leading to traffic jams. Toilets lacked light. Food and drink vending areas were not open, leaving fans hungry and thirsty.

Minas Arena officials acknowledged there were a series of errors and said they'd work to correct them. But their company was still fined by the authorities.

Tiago Lacerda, head of Secopa, the local organizing committee, said officials were working on a complete report.

"For everything that they went through - problems with the bars, water and food - the fans behaved really well,'' he told reporters at a news conference on Monday. "But we had serious problems. The lack of water is unacceptable. Minas Arena must correct these errors.''

The 62,000-seat stadium will host three matches of the Confederations Cup and six of the 2014 World Cup.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo blasted the state of the Belo Horizonte stadium following Sunday's match.

"The new stadiums were built to ensure safety, comfort and the well-being of fans,'' Rebelo said. "Nothing justifies that a stadium like the new Mineirao, with the latest in engineering and sporting infrastructure, would have so many operating failures.''

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