Delayed stadium opens World Cup in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO (AP) -- South America's biggest city will be the first to see some action at the World Cup when Brazil plays Croatia at the stadium where a crane collapse killed two workers last year.

The accident at the Itaquerao Stadium caused significant damage and delays, and constructors have said parts of the roof won't be finished before the June 12 opener. That game will be the first in the stadium with a capacity crowd, as not all temporary seats were installed for test events.

Built by popular Brazilian club Corinthians, the stadium became one of the biggest concerns for FIFA in the run-up to the tournament.

The stadium will hold nearly 70,000 people in the opener, but after the World Cup its capacity will be reduced to about 45,000. The box-shaped Arena Corinthians is nicknamed Itaquerao because it's located in Itaquera, a lower-middle class neighborhood in the city's east side.

In addition to the opening match, the stadium will host three other group matches: Uruguay vs. England on June 19; Netherlands vs. Chile on June 23; and South Korea vs. Belgium on June 26. In the knockout stages, it will host a match in the round of 16 on July 1 and a semifinal match on July 8.

Considered Brazil's financial center, Sao Paulo is also known for its terrible street traffic. Although there is a subway line that reaches the Itaquerao, it won't be easy for fans to get to the stadium without significant delays. It will help, though, that city officials are expected to declare holidays on match days during the World Cup.

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