The Arena do Jacaré, which literally translates into Alligator Arena, is the home of relatively anonymous EC Democrata from the small Bazilian city of Sete Lagoas, which lies about 60 kilometres north-east of Belo Horizonte.
EC Democrata has never really made it to the upper leagues of the Brazilian Championships, but has a history of “successfully” competing in the Campeonato Mineiro State Championships, with three second place finishes in the 1950s and 60s. This year the club has returned to the highest state league after falling back to the third a few years ago.
The Campeonato Mineiro is usually contested between Belo Horizonte clubs Cruzeiro EC and Atlético Mineiro, with América Mineiro a standard third, and this year will not prove to be different.
There is one thing though that is different this year (and actually already was last year), and that is that Arena do Jacaré is seeing a lot of action. Which is because it is not only the home of Democrata, but also of Atlético, Cruzeiro, and América.
The reason for this is that both Atlético, Cruzeiro (Estádio Mineirão), and América (Estádio Independência) planned a major redevelopment of their stadiums at the same time, and thus closed their stadiums at the same time, and then suddenly found themselves without a stadium to play at.
The solution: Arena do Jacaré. Though located 60 kilometres away, it was still the best possible option for the state capital clubs.
The stadium however, though only opened in 2006, was not exactly top league material:
Works were therefore started in 2009 to give the stadium a make-over, and a few months later the result was a nice and shiny stadium with a capacity of 20,063 seats:
Admittedly, the second photo, contrary to the first one, was taken on a sunny day, but the difference is still noticeable to say the least.
So when the fun is over later this year, and the Belo Horizonte clubs will have moved back to their renovated stadiums, Democrata will end up with a fine Alligator Arena to show for.
Photos: © Prefeitura de Sete Lagoas