Kazan Arena Review – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Kazan Arena Andrew Wiese 1

Kazan Arena. Photo: Andrew Wiese

“Wow that screen is massive!” my friend exclaimed as soon as we stepped out of the taxi and got our first view of the Kazan Arena and the screen on the outside of the stadium, facing the arriving fans. Kazan Arena is not only one of the stadiums that has been built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but also is one of the chosen four stadiums that will host games for the Confederations Cup this coming June. This means that in less than 3 months Kazan will host teams such as Germany, Chile, Mexico, as well as the home team Russia. I had the pleasure of visiting the stadium, and the city, for home side Rubin’s clash against Zenit St. Petersburg on April 2, where I got a first-hand view of what awaits the prominent guests in the future. I’ve thought about Kazan Arena in terms of: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: Kazan Arena is truly an impressive structure. FIFA.com stated that the same architectural firm that designed both Wembley and the Emirates, two other truly impressive stadia, designed the stadium in Kazan. While the game I witnessed was only attended by 10,000 fans I can just imagine what the stadium atmosphere will be like with 40,000+ fans passionately cheering.

The stadium is modern and you can tell it was created with maneuverability in mind. It was easy to enter and going through security was pretty seamless. As well, finding our seats was simple and heaters in the bathroom did wonders when I ran inside during halftime. While the weather won’t be frigid for either the Confed Cup or the World Cup, it is encouraging that the pitch was in great condition even during a wet April snowstorm, although this did require Rubin using their old stadium for a few games this spring.

As for the aforementioned video screen, it is purported to be the largest screen in Europe and I can envision the wonderful scenes fans will experience even if they aren’t fortunate to get tickets to any games inside the arena in 2018.

The author in front of the video board outside of the stadium. Photo: Andrew Wiese.

The author in front of the video board outside of the stadium. Photo: Andrew Wiese.

As well the arena is truly a destination even without a game going on inside. With a children’s’ zone, a gym complete with pool, weight room, squash courts and a Crossfit box, and other attractions, I could see this facility used frequently by those who live nearby. As well, due to it being the home of Harley Davidson Kazan, I imagine that this might be the only stadium in the world at which you can buy your own “hog”.

The Bad: I loved the arena itself. My only downside would be the location. Because the stadium was built in a new section of the city, primarily developed for the 2013 World University Games, the surrounding area lacks a bit of culture and nearby amenities.

The stadium is across the Kazanka River from the more-frequented sites of Kazan and while there are some restaurants nearby the whole area seems a bit sterile. As well, there’s minimal public transport available to the stadium. Kazan’s only metro line has its nearest station to the arena more than four kilometers away. While construction on a new line is ongoing, without completion public transport to the stadium will be limited to a couple bus and tram routes. That’s not ideal for the crowd movement that will need to be facilitated come 2018. The Confederations Cup will be a good litmus test of infrastructure and I imagine the city will have to start coming up with increased bus routes to help move people to and from the stadium for the World Cup.

Kazan Arena. Photo: Andrew Wiese

Kazan Arena. Photo: Andrew Wiese

The Ugly: This is being picky but already there are signs of decay at the Kazan Arena. Walking up the steps into the stadium some of the paving slabs have already broken off or crumbled leaving some of the steps pretty unsteady. While the Kazan Arena was one of the first stadiums finished for 2018, its still not a good look for such a great ground.

Conclusion: As long as Kazan can develop better systems to get fans to and from this arena I predict that it will be a fantastic place to catch a game both for this summer and for the main event in 2018. And hey, if I travel all the way to Arena Kazan and my team happens to lose, at least I can still buy myself a Harley to help me get home.

Author: Andrew Wiese

American in Moscow. Atlanta United supporter. Used to watch the snowy CSKA Moscow games on TV as a kid thinking, “Who would go watch a game in that weather?” Now I know the answer to that… me.

Comments

  1. Tony Vandermeer says:

    Excellent review. Gets me excited for WC 2018 and tempted to head to Russia!

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