The Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí (or Sambódromo in portuguese) is the purpose-built stadium designed by world-renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Neimeyer. Built in 1984 after the government decided the parades of Rio Carnival deserve a home of their own, the Sambadrome is the official venue of Rio Carnival. The venue is made up of free-standing structures called sectors, located along the parade runway. A few days before the Carnival, the Samba runway (or passarela in Portuguese) is painted white. At the end of the parade route is an Arch in a locale called Praça da Apoteose, or Apotheosis Square, made up of a set of bleachers that form a square where participants of the Samba Parades, either tourists or official members of the parading Samba Schools, can gather as the school for which they marched procession comes to a close.

The Sambadrome had an original capacity for 70,000 spectators, but when Rio won the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games it was agreed that the venue would need to raise its capacity to host the start and finish of the marathon. The Sambadrome was renovated according to Niemeyer’s initial design which layed out the sectors symmetrically along the runway. Neimeyer’s original designs were modified in 1984 because of an old factory nearby. The city finally reached an agreement with the owners of the old Brahma Brewery, which was demolished in order to add more bleachers, increasing the seating capacity of the Sambadrome to 90,000.

12,500 new seats were added to the Sambadrome and acoustics improved dramatically, the views from certain sectors were improved, the building was made more aesthetically pleasing and balconies were added to the boxes located on the even side of the venue. Renovations were finished in early 2012 just a few days before Rio Carnival. A re-opening ceremony took place on February 7, 2012, with architect Oscar Niemeyer, then 104 years old, and Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes watching.