- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) - Widely considered the most advanced city in Brazil, Curitiba was in serious danger of being excluded from the World Cup because of delays at its stadium.

After repeated warnings, FIFA was forced to give an ultimatum to the southern Brazilian city, prompting local organizers to scramble to find additional funding to expedite renovation work at the 41,000-capacity Arena da Baixada, which is owned by local club Atletico Paranaense.

A solution came in at the last minute, keeping Curitiba from becoming the first host city to be excluded from the tournament because of construction delays.

The payoff should come when world champion Spain plays Australia on June 23. The other three group matches at the venue will be Iran vs. Nigeria on June 16, Honduras vs. Ecuador on June 20, and Algeria vs. Russia on June 26.

Spain is also expected to train in Curitiba during the World Cup.

Atletico Paranaense and local officials faced difficulties funding the renovation work at the Arena da Baixada from the beginning, and at one point had to cancel plans of a retractable roof because it would not be ready in time for the World Cup.

The city is known worldwide for its efficient transportation system and urban planning, and has been praised by the United Nations and others for being environmentally friendly. Located in the south, relatively cold weather is expected for some matches.

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