World Cup: FIFA inaugurates Arena das Dunas in Natal, home venue for USA vs. Ghana on June 16
Brazil may not have every one of the 12 stadiums ready for the World Cup, but organizers were at least able to cross one off the list this week.
On Wednesday officials inaugurated the Arena das Dunas in Natal, which will be the home for the US national team's World Cup Group G opener against Ghana on June 16. It's named after the sand dunes on the beaches of the Rio Grande do Norte state, of which Natal is the capital.
FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and former Brazil national teamers Bebeto and Cafu did the honors at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, while a reported 300 protesters critical of the country's investment in the World Cup gathered outside.
The Arena das Dunas, which will seat 42,000 including 10,000 temporary seats for the World Cup, will be the site for a total of four group stage matches: Mexico vs. Cameroon (June 13), Ghana vs. USA (June 16), Japan vs. Greece (June 19) and Italy vs. Uruguay (June 24).
USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann visited the site during the team's stay in Brazil and he called it "absolutely dazzling," according to reports.
The stadium will become the permanent home for Natal's biggest teams, Serie B sides América-RN and ABC. The two clubs will break in the surface with their participation in a doubleheader this Sunday.
There are five stadiums remaining to be completed before the tournament kicks off in June with the Curitiba venue proving the most concerning for the organizers: Arena da Baixada (Curitiba), Arena Corinthians (São Paulo), Estádio Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre), Arena Pantanal (Cuiabá) and the Arena Amazônia (Manaus).