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The ten Biggest football stadiums in South America

The continent of South America arguably embodies the spirit of football better than any other, with the region consistently endearing itself to the sport with not just passion, but also an incredible level of technical ability and flair that entertains.

Their players are well-known, with stars such as Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho forever etched into the history books – but what are the largest football stadiums in South America? Let's take a look.

The Ten Biggest football Stadiums in South America

 

SSouth American football fans
South American football fans are some of the most passionate in the world. Photo by Icon Sport

10. Estadio do Arruda

Estadio do Arruda
Estadio Jose do Rego Maciel has been the home of Brazilian side Santa Cruz since it opened in 1972. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Recife, Brazil

Opened: 1972

Capacity: 60,044

Officially named the Estadio Jose do Rego Maciel – after Recife's mayor between 1952 and 1955 – Estadio do Arruda is a multi-purpose ground, although it is most commonly used for football, and is currently the home of Brazilian side Santa Cruz.

The first match at the stadium took place in 1972, when Santa Cruz competed against Flamengo in a 0-0 draw, and the current record attendance at the ground stands at just over 90,000.

However, the stadium has generally been overlooked when it comes to international football, having only hosted a handful of international matches and being snubbed for the 2014 World Cup hosted in Brazil.

9. Estadio Centenario

Estadio Centenario
Brazil have won just three of their 20 matches in Uruguay's legendary Estadio Centenario. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Montevideo, Uruguay

Opened: 1930

Capacity: 60,235

Estadio Centenario is the home of the Uruguay national team and has a record attendance of just under 80,000 people.

It will forever be remembered within the sport of football as it was built specifically for the 1930 FIFA World Cup – the inaugural edition of the competition. Since then, the ground has continued to be a staple piece of South American football, hosting multiple Copa America finals as well as finals of the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana.

In 2021 it was renovated specially for the hosting of the latter two competitions listed, costing approximately £4.5 million, which saw a new illumination system and a new pitch installed. It is also an integral part of Uruguay's bid to host the final of the 2030 World Cup, which will take place across multiple countries and continents.

8. Estadio de la UNSA

Estadio de la UNSA
Estadio de la UNSA was built by the University of San Agustin and was officially opened in 1993. Photo by Flickr

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Opened: 1993

Capacity: 60,370

Estadio de la UNSA is a multi-purpose stadium, capable of hosting athletic events as well as footballing ones. It was built by the University of San Agustin and was mostly financed by a lottery fund-raiser held by the university. With a capacity of just over 60,000, it is the second-largest football stadium in the whole of Peru.

It has played an important role in South American football, hosting the first four group-stage matches in Group C of the 2004 Copa America, as well as the final of the 2003 Sudamericana final between Peruvian side Cienciano and River Plate. Partially as a result of the intimidating atmosphere conjured up inside the stadium on that day, local side Cienciano secured an unlikely 1-0 victory.

7. Arena do Gremio

Arena do Gremio
Construction of the Arena do Gremio cost approximately £163 million, with the ground being classed as a category 4 stadium by UEFA. Photo by Icon Sport.

Location: Porto Alegre, Brazil

Opened: 2012

Capacity: 60,540er

Home of Brazilian outfit Gremio, it is one of the most modern grounds on this list, having been officially opened in 2012. Construction of the ground cost approximately £163 million and it can be used for a variety of sports.

Rather impressively, the stadium received the highest rating in all aspects from the Brazil Ministry of Sports and was also classed as a category 4 stadium by UEFA. However, despite its sleek modern look and positive ratings, Arena do Gremio was not used as a venue in the 2014 World Cup, hosted in Brazil.  Yet it has since been selected as a venue for the 2019 Copa America, a tournament in which it hosted a total of five matches.

Designed with multi-use in mind, the stadium also includes a Conference and Congress Center, a hotel, a mall, housing, condominiums and parking.

6. Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto

Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto
named after the late state governor of Minas Gerais, Mineirao is the largest stadium in its state. Photo by VIvago

Location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Capacity: 66, 658

Opened: 1965

Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto, also known more simply as Mineirao, is the largest football stadium in its state and is the home of Brazilian side Cruzeiro.

Mainly used for club football, the stadium also has pedigree in regards to international football. Mineirao served as a venue in the 2013 Confederations Cup, and the 2014 World Cup as well as hosting a handful of games in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Its record attendance is a whopping 132,000 and occurred all the way back in 1997 during the Campeonato Mineiro final – a game in which Cruzeiro themselves featured.

Opening in 1965, the original construction of the ground cost approximately £7.86 million, with Mineirao being renovated a further three times since that point – most recently in December 2012.

5. Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo

Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo
The home of Sao Paulo, Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo once had a capacity of a whopping 150,000. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Opened: 1960

Capacity: 66,795

Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo, also known as Estadio do Morumbi or MorumBIS, has been the home of Brazilian giants Sao Paulo ever since the ground opened in 1960. Mostly known as Morumbi, the ground's official name pays homage to the Chairman of the club who oversaw the majority of its original construction.

At one point in time, the stadium had an official capacity of approximately 150,000, but has seen its capacity twice limited since then – first to 72,000 and then to 66,795 for health and safety reasons. Its record attendance stands at just over 146,000 people – set in 1977 during a game between Ponte Preta and Corinthians.

Overlooked for the 2014 World Cup due to concerns regarding its financial security amid a need to renovate ahead of the tournament, the stadium was finally selected as a venue in the 2019 Copa America  – hosting the opening match where Brazil secured a 3-0 victory over Bolivia.

4. Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha

Arena BRB Mané Garrincha
The stadium is one of the most expensive in world football and has been used to host a wide variety of matches. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Brasilia, Brazil

Opened: 1974

Capacity: 69,000

Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, also known as Estadio Nacional de Brasilia as well as simply Mane Garrincha, is one of several buildings which complete Brasilia's Ayrton Senna Sports Complex and is currently privately owned. Unsurprisingly, the ground was named after Brazil legend Garrincha, who won two World Cups with the national team.

In 2013, the stadium was renovated after being selected as a venue in both the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup – a project which cost a staggering £700 million, making it one of the most expensive stadiums in world football.

Ever since that renovation, the stadium has been an integral part of international football in South America, after it was also used as a venue in the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2021 Copa America too.

3. Maracana Stadium

Maracana Stadium
Outrage from fans recently prevented the ground from being renamed to the King Pele Stadium. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Rio de Janeiro

Opened: 1950

Capacity: 73,139

Officially named Estadio Journalista Mario Filho, the Maracana Stadium is part of a wider complex known as ‘Little Maracana' and is currently owned by the government. It is the home of both Fluminense and Flamengo.

The ground was purpose-built to host the 1950 World Cup final, a game in which not only did Brazil sadly lose, but also the record attendance for the Maracana was set – with reports suggesting that up to 200,000 people made their way into the stadium as spectators for the match.

It has played an important role in both domestic and international football – being selected as a venue in multiple Copa Americas and World Cups, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics, while also hosting the famous Fla-Flu derby between Fluminense and Flamengo.

However, the ground quickly fell into disrepair after the 2016 Olympics, with reports showcasing an abandoned pitch within a vandalised stadium. Riddled with debt, the stadium is no longer as notorious as it once was, but its legacy is undeniable.

2. Estadio Monumental

Estadio Monumental
Estadio Monumental is the second-largest stadium in South America, boasting a capacity of 80,000. Photo by ESPN

Location: Lima, Peru

Opened: 2000

Capacity: 80,000

Formerly the largest stadium in South America, Estadio Monumental is the home of Peruvian side Club Universitario de Deportes.

However, despite its size and relative stature compared to other stadiums, the ground has failed to make an impact on the international stage. Estadio Monumental was overlooked for the 2004 Copa America and as a result, has been mostly reduced to hosting domestic fixtures. Although, the ground was selected to host the 2019 Copa Libertadores final – arguably the most notable match to take place at the stadium.

While it has been influential in Peruvian football, regularly used by the national team and hosting domestic cup finals, it has certainly failed to reach its full potential so far.

1. Estadio Mas Monumental

Estadio Mas Monumental
Estadio Mas Monumental, the home of River Plate, is the largest football stadium in South America. Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Opened: 1938

Capacity: 84,567

Home to both Argentine giants River Plate, as well as the Argentina national side, the Estadio Mas Monumental has recently undergone a redevelopment, costing approximately £31 million. This resulted in a massive capacity increase for the stadium – making it the largest football stadium in the whole of South America.

The stadium also has an incredibly rich history to go alongside its enormous size. To this date, it has hosted four Copa America finals, most recently in 2011, and also hosted the 1978 World Cup final – a game in which Argentina emerged as victors against the Netherlands.

Aside from football, this iconic stadium also hosted the athletic events of the first Pan American games, as well as other events such as music concerts. Its record attendance for a football match is currently believed to be approximately 100,000, during a game between River Plate and Racing Club nearly 50 years ago in 1975.


Harry Dowsett

Freelance football writer with experience writing for multiple digital platforms, such as GIVEMESPORT. Recently graduated from Portsmouth University with a media studies degree - completing a dissertation on the evolution of sports journalism in the process. He has a love for Arsenal Football Club and a passion for football as a whole.

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