The official bidding process to manage Brazil’s famous Maracanã stadium has been unexpectedly postponed.
On Thursday morning, a group formed by 777 Partners, a Miami-based investment firm, was informed it could not submit its bid by the Tribunal de Contas do Estado (TCE-RJ)—a state-run committee that oversees the bidding process. The 777 group also includes Legends, the U.S.-based hospitality company specializing in sports arenas, and WTorre, a Brazilian commercial real estate company.
“Our group was prepared to submit a world-class bid last week despite the deadline being postponed just 24 hours before the due date,” a 777 representative told Sportico. “We are confident our bid will be what is best for Maracanã and all the fans in Rio, regardless of when the new deadline is set.”
The 78,838-seat stadium, which is owned by the Rio de Janeiro government, has been managed by Rio’s topflight soccer teams Flamengo and Fluminense since 2017. The state opens bids periodically for short-term management, but there has yet to be an official bidding process to manage the facilities on a full-time basis.
According to Brazilian media, Marcos Pacheco, who works for the TCE-J made the last-minute request to postpone the bidding process to Claudio Castro, the governor of Rio de Janeiro. The publication also reported that Pacheco and Castro are both avid supporters of Flamengo, which has 40 million followers in Brazil and is the biggest soccer club in the country.
Last year, 777 Partners acquired a 70% controlling stake in Vasco de Gama, Rio’s third-biggest soccer team, which has more than 14 million fans in Brazil. The team has its own stadium, but the 20,000-seat venue often sells out, and the team frequently requests to play in Maracanã.
Flamengo and Fluminense control which clubs can play at Maracanã, and they are supposed to accommodate requests from other Rio de Janeiro-based clubs that ask to play there. However, Vasco representatives told Sportico that in the past the team had to go to court in order to play matches in the stadium.
Flamengo, Pacheco and Castro did not respond to Sportico’s multiple attempts to request for comments.