A rendering of Arena da Baixada.

“How do I say it, again?” Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities, asked the company’s Alison Salcedo.

“Baixada. Arena da Baixada,” said Salcedo, making a point to enunciate the ‘x’ as a sound closely resembling a ‘z.’ “Americans have trouble with the ‘x’ because we don’t really have that sound.”

Newman is referring to AEG Facilities’ latest contract overseas, Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil. The announcement expands AEG’s network in the country that will play host to the next World Cup 2014 and Summer Olympics 2016.

Arena da Baixada, home to Clube Atlético Paranaense of the Brazilian Football League, is undergoing a $120-million makeover that includes a retractable roof. The 46,000-capacity stadium is set to open in June.

“It’s more than a renovation,” said Newman, who referred to the facility as ‘new.’ “I would describe it more as a very dramatic, significant and fantastic renovation and upgrade of the venue.”

Though AEG has had a bit of operator input the last couple of weeks, the project design for the 46,000-capacity, multipurpose building was completed more than a year ago. Luckily, Newman said the plans for the venue are spot-on.

“I think it’s one of the most well-conceived and designed venues we’ve seen in a long time, in South America and beyond,” he said.

However, the design of the facility presented a challenge in the Brazilian marketplace.

“Multipurpose arenas are not common to our country and making it profitable is a challenge that only the presence of a strong company such as AEG can overcome,” said Mauro Holzmann, executive director of Marketing and Communications for Clube Atlético Paranaense.

A look at Arena da Baixada.

AEG signed a 10-year operating contract for the facility and is currently working to put the management team in place and start sales of corporate partnerships and premium seating for Clube Atlético Paranaense’s season. 

“There will be everything — music, corporate events, conventions and, of course, sports,” added Holzmann.

Newman said he envisions family shows, rodeo, ultimate fighting, and any event that will play anywhere in the world coming to the new venue.

With World Cup facility Arena Pernambuco in Recife opening in April, and São Paolo’s Nova Arena opening in November, already under AEG management, the company is working to establish a strong operating presence in the rapidly expanding market.

“They’re all in very strong demographic cities with strong sport and entertainment historical sales numbers,” said Newman. “It will be an intra-Brazil network, as well as a worldwide network.”

Newman called Brazil a market that is at a very early growth stage in the industry and is primed for an unbelievable growth explosion. Though the World Cup may be acting as a catalyst, the design of Arena da Baixada, and other new venues, will make the area successful long term.

“They’re designing these venues to be very vibrant and sustain on their own for many years following the World Cup. A lot of them are multipurpose and will have permanent tenants,” added Newman. “I think that this is going to be one of the most successful World Cup ventures — not just in the implementation of the World Cup, but for the lifespan of the venues that are built.”

Now it’s just up to AEG to bring in the programming.

Interviewed for this story: Mauro Holzmann, 55 41 2105-5600; Bob Newman and Alison Salcedo, (310) 630-2032