Catering for the world – FCSI at the FIFA World Cup

As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup it is investing heavily in developing world class facilities to host matches and cater for thousands of spectators. With major stadium refurbishment projects under way, FCSI members have been working to make sure that foodservice wins over the crowds, as Jim Banks discovered

There are only a few truly global events that make the eyes of the world turn to one place at the same time. In the years ahead, remarkably, Brazil will play host to two such events – the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The imminent soccer World Cup tournament has prompted heavy investment in infrastructure, and catering for the huge crowds that are expected to fill the stadia is high on the list of priorities.

Every stadium project has its own unique challenges, but the core features of each development are the same in terms of foodservice. Firstly, the stadia have to serve vast numbers of people in a way that helps to make their experience of one of the world’s most exciting sporting events as satisfying as possible. Secondly, the facilities have to support the many varied uses to which the stadia will be put long after the tournament has finished.

The Arena Beira-Rio stadium

“All of them have commitments with the legacy for the next 20 or 30 years. Each of the three stadia on which I am working where FIFA games will be held will only host five games or fewer, so the legacy becomes much more important than the World Cup itself,” says Armando Ricardo Pucci FCSI, founder and principal at Fast Foods Consultoria e Projetos Ltda.

“All of them look very similar because they are all soccer arenas, and they all have a similar scale, having somewhere between 45,000 and 65,000 seats, with around 120 suites and corporate boxes, restaurants, clubs and other facilities,” he adds.

Pucci is based in Brazil and has been a foodservice consultant since 1980. He has been involved in over 450 professional kitchen planning and design projects. These include sports stadia, offshore platforms for Petrobras, corporate restaurants for the likes of Xerox and IBM, full-service restaurants such as the Dalva & Dito Brasserie, hospital and hotel facilities such as the Renaissance Hotel in São Paulo, and fast food outlets including America Burger & Pasta.

His focus is firmly on fast food, which is one of the main reasons he has been chosen to work on five stadium projects in Brazil, where he is at least partially responsible for foodservice programming or kitchen planning. Three of these stadia will be home to matches for soccer’s 2013 Confederations Cup or 2014 FIFA World Cup, while the other two – the Nova Arena Palmeiras and the Grêmio Arena – are still big projects in their own right. “I was hired to develop the foodservice and catering programme for five arenas, but I am still negotiating to get one or two more soon. Two of them – the Arena Pernambuco and Arena Mineirão – I will work on in partnership with Chris Bigelow FCSI of Bigelow Inc, who introduced me to this market segment, due to his AEG and Global Spectrum connections,” notes Pucci. The stadia on which he is working [see right] are huge undertakings. The Arena Beira-Rio, for instance, which will host five FIFA World Cup matches, will have a capacity of 60,800 seats and cost $170m to complete, while the Arena Mineirão was an incredible $350m project to change one of the country’s most famous football arenas into a 67,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium.

Although the plans for each stadium have been carefully drawn up, there is still a lot of work for foodservice consultants like Pucci to do to ensure the catering facilities are up to the same standards as the parts of the stadia defined by their primary function – sporting activity. “As a foodservice consultant, I am responsible first of all to prepare a Project Review Report, to define what is necessary and what difficulties there may be in providing the appropriate facilities from a catering perspective. Then it is my job to propose solutions,” says Pucci.

Great expectations

Pucci’s responsibilities will have a major impact on how the catering facilities for each stadium are designed, and therefore on how well each venue will live up to the expectations of the people who use it during one of the busiest and most popular events in the world. It has often been important to work in partnership with other consultants to bring together market-leading expertise in different kinds of foodservice model.

“For Arena Beira-Rio and Grêmio Arena I am in charge of project review, foodservice programming and the preliminary project. For Arena Pernambuco and Arena Mineirão projects, Chris Bigelow was responsible for the project review and foodservice programming, while I was in charge of preliminary and executive projects, equipment specs, installation co-ordination and the start-up of the work. For Arena Mineirão projects, Chris and I were responsible for the project review and foodservice programming, while at the Nova Arena, I am responsible for every single aspect of the project,” says Pucci.

“Since the modern concept of multifunctional arenas does not exist yet in this country, we do not have local arena operators and/or concessionaries, and as a result the owners and architects adopted the wrong catering concepts in many instances. For instance, they used mall food courts as references with dozens of independent concessionaries, so many projects were developed without the modern foodservice concepts and catering requirements that they really need,” he adds.

For Pucci, this meant delving into the core concepts of these huge projects and bringing all his years of experience to bear on some fundamental design issues. Identifying and sourcing the right people to bring a new vision of the catering concepts to life has also been a huge challenge. Given the number of stakeholders involved in each project, and the complexity of creating a foodservice solution within a much bigger and highly complex construction project, it has taken a great deal of skill and experience to manage not only the practicalities of delivery, but also the expectations of everyone involved. “I have done many different foodservice projects during the last 30 years,” he says, “including many large cafeterias that sometimes have to serve over 10,000 lunches a day, central commissary kitchens, hospitals, five-star hotels and restaurants. But not all at the same time, which is really what I am having to do now, beside the independent hotel and restaurant projects that should be ready for 2014 and for Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.”

Although deeply immersed in preparations for the World Cup, Pucci already has one eye on the Olympics two years later, which will no doubt require much greater planning and an even higher level of investment. His experience of the World Cup so far has shown just how important it is for foodservice consultants to be involved from the very earliest stages of the design process. Hopefully the experience of the last few years will help to get that message across to the organisers of the Olympic Games, so that some of the fundamental design issues for the foodservice elements will be thought of well in advance. Despite the challenges, however, Pucci is well aware that his work on the World Cup venues, and the other stadia projects that are under way in Brazil, represents a unique opportunity to be involved in developments that will have a lasting legacy. “It is really a great honour and pleasure to be working on these projects. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he says.

World Cup stadia in progress

Pernambuco Arena 

A venue for Confederations Cup 2013 and FIFA World Cup 2014 games, the Pernambuco Arena has a scheduled budget of R$500m and a capacity of 46,000 people. Part of a larger project that includes the planned construction of a residential area, it will become a multi-use facility after the World Cup, hosting concerts, conventions and other events. The complex will feature food courts, restaurants, shopping centres, museums, cinemas, a theatre and convention centre. The building will use some solar power and capture rainwater.

Start date: October 2010

Completion date: March 2013

Location: São Lourenço da Mata (PE)

Progress to date: Structure 70.5% complete

Partners: AEG & Consórcio Arena Pernambuco

Contract Model: Public private partnership

Cost: US$250m

Concessions Term: 33 years

Foodservice consultants: Bigelow Inc; Fast Foods Consultoria e Pojetos Ltda


Arena Mineirão

Central to the Confederations Cup 2013 and FIFA World Cup 2014 tournaments, the stadium, founded in 1965, belongs to the state government and played an essential role in the rise of Belo Horizonte’s main teams – Atlécito Mineiro, Cruzeiro and America – and saw great players like Tostão, Dirceu Lopes, Piazza, Reinaldo and Dario rise to fame. Refurbishment began in 2010 on a shared management model involving the state government, private investment and the capital city’s football clubs. Construction works should be complete by December 2012. Work includes lowering the pitch to bring spectators closer, structural recovery and the installation of video screens. It will feature 90 private boxes and a panoramic restaurant, and its capacity reach 67,000. A roof will allow solar energy to be stored.

Start date: October 2010

Completion date: December 2012

Location: Belo Horizonte (MG)

Progress to date: 93% complete by November 2012

Partners: Construcap, Egesa e HAP Engenharia

Contract Model: Public Private Partnership

Cost: US$350m

Concessions Term: 27 years

Foodservice consultants: Bigelow Inc; Fast Foods Consultoria e Pojetos Ltda



Arena Beira Rio

Arena Beira Rio, the stadium used by Internacional, will host five World Cup 2014 matches. It will feature a metal roof covering all seats, plus new ramps and access ways. The lower stand will be larger and closer to the pitch. Construction work is a modular project that allows the stadium to remain open during the refurbishment, which will extend to the Gigantinho gymnasium next door to be used as a venue for concerts and conventions. A new hotel will also be built in the complex.

Start date: July 2010

Location: Porto Alegre

Progress to date: 38.6 % of structure complete

Partners: Sport Club Internacional & Andrade Gutierrez

Contract Model: Private investment

Cost: US$170m

Concessions Term: 20 years

Foodservice consultants: Fast Foods Consultoria e Pojetos Ltda


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