For the past few weeks, there has been concern that the Ginásio do Ibirapuera, an indoor sporting arena located in São Paulo, Brazil, designed by architect Ícaro de Castro Mello, may be converted into a shopping, entertainment, and gastronomic center. This could be the fate of the building, which is of notorious historical significance if the private sector sets in motion the financial modeling report for the Ibirapuera Park concession, articulated by the São Paulo State Government.
The concession intends to deliver the 91 thousand square meter sports complex to a concessionaire in return for the construction of an arena with a capacity for 20 thousand people in the same area. The new facility will not necessarily be built on the site of the current arena; the state proposes that it should be located where the soccer, rugby, and athletics stadium is today, and the arena should be transformed into a shopping center - this is the term that appears in the report - but this will depend on the intentions of the future operator.
On November 30th, the Council for the Defense of Historical, Archaeological, Artistic and Tourist Heritage (Condephaat) declined to open a process to register the complex as national heritage. If approved, the process would prevent any change in the area, at least until the final decision on whether the complex should be protected or not. Out of 24 counselors, only eight were present for the opinion of architect Renato Anelli, who proposed the listing process. During an interview with CBN News, Anelli stated:
We have exhaustively proved, with the advice of experts, that it is possible to make a concession when a property is listed as heritage. It simply requires more care with the property. What happened today is absurd. The state government and the Council for the Defense of the Historical Heritage of the State of São Paulo are politicizing this.
Although the concession is not part of the Condephaat's scope, it seems to have weighed on the decision. During the meeting, the representative of the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) expressed his concern about how the heritage register could damage the concession plan.
The State Government's project intends to maintain the sporting activities through the construction of four multi-sport game courts, a skatepark - which would add up to less than 2,000 square meters of the 91,000 square meters of land - and the new arena. The rest of the land may be used by the concessionaire to generate revenue.
Meanwhile, the proposal to transform the old arena into a shopping center is based on the idea that it is cheaper to adapt the existing structure than to demolish the whole building and erect a new one on the spot. According to the financial modeling report, the 31 thousand square meter shopping facility would be classified as "traditional and regional," with anchor stores, smaller retailers, food courts, and kiosks in the common areas. The costs of the refurbishment are estimated at R$ 93 million.
The future of the facility remains very unclear: out of the concession proposals received by the State Government, six are contemplating the construction of a shopping center, three are also planning to build a hotel, and another three are considering maintaining the sports complex, replacing the old arena with a new one.