Estádio Raimundo Sampaio is the official name but I never heard this name before. Everybody calls this football stadium by its nickname: Independência. But, I don’t believe most people know how it got its nickname and the history behind the second biggest football stadium in Belo Horizonte.

Sometimes people ask me where I come from and when I say Belo Horizonte, most people have a blank stare in their face. Normally, I say that Belo Horizonte is Sepultura’s hometown since it is the biggest thing that came out of the city, in my opinion. Since the World Cup in 2014, sometimes, I describe Belo Horizonte as the place where Germany destroyed Brazil with that 7×1 that is still stuck in my head as a brazilian living in Germany. But, lets forget about that game for a while.

When I decided to visit my family in Belo Horizonte, I knew I had to watch a football game there. I was never a big football fan but Marcela changed this once we started dating back in 2008. Our second date was watching Palmeiras, her team, playing against São Caetano.

América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência

Once I was in Belo Horizonte, I knew I had to watch a football game. Which game? I had no idea. It was them that my friend Pedro Villalobos told me that he could score some tickets for me if I wanted to see América playing against Avaí. For those of you that don’t know that, both teams are on the brazilian second division. Of course I said yes and I have to thank Méliuz for the tickets and everything else.

I don’t think I ever saw América playing before this game. My grandmother used to say that she cheered for them but I don’t have any memory of her watching football matches outside of the World Cup. This would be my first time watching América play and, also, it would be my first time back at Independência in over 10 years. The game didn’t even need to be good, I knew I would enjoy everything about it.

A Little But of Independência’s History

Estádio Raimundo Sampaio is the official name, but nobody calls this stadium like that. It’s always Independência and it has been always like that. This came to be because the club that owned the stadium was called Sete de Setembro Futebol Clube and the name of the team, September seven, is Brazil’s Independence Day. Since 1989, after Sete de Setembro’s demise, América rented the stadium and it is leasing it until 2019.

América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência

But Independência’s history started a long time ago when the 1950’s World Cup happened in Brazil. Construction started a little earlier than that, in 1947 and the inaugural match was between Yugoslavia and Switzerland, won by the former by 3-0, and played on June 25, 1950. There is where United States score 1-0 over England in one of the most famous games of that 1950 World Cup.

In 2010, the stadium was almost entirely demolished and a brand new and modern stadium was built to host the games of América and Atlético Mineiro. All the construction work was over by 2012 and the pictures you see here are from the new stadium. And I have to say it looks way better than it used to be the last time I was there over 10 years ago.

América and Avaí

It was raining when I got to Independência but I didn’t care. I had arrived in Belo Horizonte a few hours earlier and I was pumped up to see my friends and have some beers. After a few problems trying to get in the stadium with my tripod, there I was inside the new Arena Independência like its named nowadays.

América and Avaí started with América putting pressure and trying to score at every opportunity but… Avaí was holding its place and didn’t allow any goals. It was only on the second half that América scored against Avaí but, once it scored, it was 3 beautiful goals from Adalberto, Obina and Willians, in this order.

América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência América and Avaí at Arena Independência

I left the game happy to be able to see my first América game with a victory. I left Independência happy to see it brand new and way better than any expectation I had. I left the stadium happy to forget that the last football experience I had regarding Belo Horizonte was that game against Germany. Next time, the match needs to be here in Berlin.

América and Avaí at Arena Independência

If you happened to be traveling in Belo Horizonte and you like football, don’t forget to try your lucky at any game happening at Independência. Atlético Mineiro and América host their home games there and you’re enjoy what you see there. The stadium is big, safe and there is cheap beer on the bars around it. Take a look at Independência’s website and see what is happening there. Any taxi you take will know where you want to go but write the address down just in case. You can find Independência, or Estádio Raimundo Sampaio, at Rua Pitangui, 3230, Horto.

Fotostrasse managed to watch América and Avaí thanks to Méliuz.