Electricity cut at Maracana stadium over unpaid bills

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2016, file photo, the Christ the Redeemer statue stands above Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Electricity has been cut at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium in a battle over unpaid bills. The electric utility company says in a statement that power was cut on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, which was host of the 2014 World Cup final, and the opening a closing ceremonies of Rio's 2016 Olympics. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro's famed Maracana stadium is without power after a dispute over unpaid electricity bills.

Electric utility company Light said in a statement that power was cut Thursday at the stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup soccer final, and the opening and closing ceremonies of last year's Rio Olympics.

The company said it is owed 3 million reals (around $940,000) with 1.3 million ($410,000) of that owed by a consortium managing the stadium, led by construction company Odebrecht. The rest it said is owed by the Rio 2016 Olympic organizers.

The stadium has fallen into disrepair in recent weeks and Odebrecht has asked the state of Rio de Janeiro to take over management.

The state has declared a "financial calamity" and is months behind paying teachers, nurses, other public employees, and pensions.

The utility said Rio organizers have unpaid bills from September and October, and Odebrecht has unpaid bills from November, December, and January.

Mario Andrada, a spokesman for Rio organizers, said: "Light and us, we have a separate deal. They owe us money as a sponsor, and we owe them money for energy during the games."

Andrada said the organizers had reached an agreement with Light and were in the process "of presenting the documents."

Earlier this month, Rio police said the stadium was being looted with thieves stealing television sets and two bronze busts, including that of journalist Mario Filho for whom the stadium is officially named.

Photos inside the stadium have shown seats ripped out, paint peeling from interior walls, and the soccer playing field turning brown for a lack of water.

The Maracana is one of several sports venues that have financially struggled since the Olympics ended.

A $20 million golf course is struggling to find players and money for upkeep.

Four sports venues at the Olympic Park — two arenas, a tennis center and velodrome — have failed to find operators. The city had only one bid to operate the venues, but the offer price was too low.


Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWade . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade

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