(1) LUZHNIKI STADIUM – MOSCOW
Estimated cost: €480m
Seating capacity: 81,000
History: Luzhniki officially opened on July 31, 1956, intended for use as the Soviet Union’s central stadium. In 57 years, the facility has undergone two major renovations – prior to the 1980 Summer Olympics and in 1996-1997, when a roof was added to comply with UEFA standards. The stadium has hosted the Summer Olympics, UEFA Cup and Champions League finals, and numerous Russian national team matches. It has also served as the home pitch for Spartak, CSKA, Torpedo, Rubin and Anzhi over the years.
Luzhniki also has a dark chapter, as 66 people died here in the worst stadium catastrophe in Russia’s history during an UEFA Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Dutch side Harlem on the 20th of October 1982.
The stadium will host the World Cup final.
Current Status: The stadium is currently undergoing a capital renovation, which began at the fall of 2013. The reconstruction of the historic stadium will remove the running track around the pitch and thus increase the seating capacity to 81,000. Furthermore, the entire inside of the stadium has been demolished and will be completely modernized when the World Cup kicks off. Traditionalists can however breath easily, as the historic facade of the stadium won’t be changed at all.
The summer of 2015 saw RussianFootballNews.com get an exclusive look inside the ground. Pictures from that can be found here. The press officer of the construction company working on Luzhniki told us that the construction was ahead of schedule, and that they hoped to be ready to plant the pitch around the summer of 2016.
(2) OTKRITIE ARENA – MOSCOW
Estimated cost: €302.6m
Seating capacity: 45,000
History: The ceremonial cornerstone was laid on June 2, 2007, but construction at the site did not begin until 2010. Otkritie Arena is located on the northwest side of Moscow, about 25 minutes from downtown via the metro. It’s a dream come true for thousands of Spartak fans who have never had a stadium to call their own despite a storied history in both Soviet and Russian football.
The first match at the stadium was played on September 5 2014 vs. Serbia’s Crvena Zvezda, brother club to Spartak’s biggest support group, Fratria. With Luzhniki still being under construction Otkritie Arena has become the new home of the Russian national team, who plays their important matches in Spartak’s new home.
The stadium is named after Otkritie Bank, one of Russia’s biggest privatly owned banks, who bought the naming rights for 1.208 billion rubles for six years. Due to FIFA regulations the stadium isn’t allowed to be known under its sponsor name during the World Cup, which is why it will most likely be known as Spartak Stadium by then.
Controversies: The construction of Otkritie Arena was for a long time postponed, first due to issues with a nearby metro line as well as bureaucratic problems, and later because of the global financial crisis that hurt the money men behind the construction work hard. Due to the many problems Spartak’s fans had to wait until the summer of 2014 before they could enter their new stadium, a stadium that was supposed to be done by 2010.
After the construction work was done several issues connected with the organization of matches occured, as people couldn’t buy a ticket or enter the stadium before the game.
(3) ZENIT ARENA – ST. PETERSBURG
Estimated cost: >€1 billion
Seating capacity: 68,000
Current Status: Construction began in 2007, two years before Russia launched its World Cup bid, on the site of St. Petersburg’s historic Kirov Stadium, the largest in the Soviet Union. The initial design for the stadium has been adjusted several times, to account for increased seating capacity and a retractable roof. The cost has also risen, from an initial €160m to the more than €1 billion. The stadium was originally planned to be finished in 2009, but the deadline has been moved back several times.
The stadium in St. Petersburg will naturally be the home of Zenit when it is ready. It is expected to finally be ready in time for the 2017 Confederation Cup, ten years after the construction work started.
Controversies: Zenit Arena has been hit by all kind of controversies. During the summer of 2015, it came out that the workers at the stadium had gone months without being paid.
In the beginning of 2013, it was revealed that a subcontractor had inflated the construction costs by around €15 million.
(4) OLYMPIC STADIUM – SOCHI
Estimated cost: €477m
Seating capacity: 45,000 (capacity will be reduced to 25,000 after the World Cup)
History: Having been assigned as the opening venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics, construction on the Fisht Olympic Stadium started in 2007. Money has been ploughed into this venue and the initial cost was smashed when the final total came to €500m. A preposterous amount, which contributes to the most expensive Olympic Games ever, let alone Winter Games.
Current Status: The stadium has had to go through redevelopments to comply with FIFA laws. These include the removal of the roof on the stadium which is reported to be costing in excess of €40m. The stadium is “35% complete” and has only just had undersoil heating and drainage installed for the grass which is another compliance with FIFA laws. Not only does the roof need to be dismantled but so do the warehouses (at either end of the stadium) and the staging within the ground.
Controversies: Unlike most grounds, most of the problems with the Fisht Olympic Stadium lay with its future after the World Cup. Currently costing £9,000 a day to run, there have been problems finding a suitable occupant for the ground. Talks of Kuban Krasnodar moving in have been swiped which is understandable when you acknowledge they are based 200km away. There have also been discussions of a new, local club being formed but with financial problems a common occurrence in Russia’s football leagues, it will take a lot of money for the club to be born (or reborn if it is the case of Zhemchuzhina who have been liquidated numerous times).
(5) KAZAN ARENA – KAZAN
Estimated Cost: €292 million
Seating capacity: 45,105
History: Construction began on May 5, 2010, with the stadium intended to help Russia’s 2018 World Cup bid, as well as host the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2013 Kazan Summer Universiade. After three-plus years of construction, Kazan Arena opened the 2013 Summer Universiade on July 6.
The first football match at the stadium was played on August 17, with Rubin Kazan hosting Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian Premier League. Rubin played at the stadium until the winter break of the 14/15 season, when it was closed to allow time for constrictions for the upcoming World Aquatics Championships which Kazan hosted in summer 2015. The stadium was essentially split in two, with one half used for a warm up pool and the other half used for the competition pool.
Current Status: After successfully hosting World Aquatics Championships to some rave reviews, the Kazan Arena has now been restored back to football use, and it laid ground to the Europa League match between Rubin Kazan and Liverpool. The stadium is also one of the venues for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
(6) BALTIKA ARENA – KALININGRAD
Estimated cost: €230m
Seating capacity: 35,000 (25,000 after the World Cup)
Current Status: In September 2014 the stadium in Kaliningrad was downsized from 45,000 to 35,000 because of budget concerns. Kaliningrad is currently a major concern for the Russian authorities, and the active fase of the stadium construction is yet to start. Currently, the stadium in Kaliningrad is more delayed that any Brazilian or South African stadium were before they hosted the World Cup according to StadiumDB.
The stadium is expected to be one of the cheapest, due to FIFA accepting the capacity decrease. Luckily, the construction of the Baltika Arena will also be relatively simple, as it will be based on prefabricated elements, which means it should grow fast once the work actually starts.
The stadium will be built on Kaliningrad’s Oktyabrsky Island, and following the World Cup the upper tier of the Arena will be removed. Arena Baltika will serve as the home stadium for Baltika Kaliningrad, who are currently finding themselves in the 2nd tier of Russian football.
The stadium is expected to be ready by the end of 2017.
(7) TSENTRALNY STADIUM – EKATERINBURG
Estimated cost: €386m
Seating capacity: 35,000
History: The original stadium was built in 1957. It served as the home arena for legendary ball hockey club SKA-Sverdlovsk and FC Uralmash, as Premier League side FC Ural was known from 1960-2002. In September 2003, Tsentralny closed for a €60m renovation project, finally reopening in August 2011, once again able to host FC Ural. The stadium can currently hold 27,000 spectators.
Current Status: For the World Cup, the stadium seating capacity must be expanded to 35,000. The most recent design calls for preserving the historic facade, but otherwise redoing much of the stadium design. The facility would not be changed in any way following the World Cup.
(8) COSMOS ARENA – SAMARA
Estimated cost: €220m
Seating capacity: 45.000
Current Status: Construction began on July 21 and is expected to be completed by December 2017. The stadium will host current Premier League side Krylya Sovetov, one of Russia’s best-supported clubs. In the beginning of October 2015 Governor of the Samara Region, Nikolay Merkushkin made it clear that the progess of the construction work was on schedule.
The design of the stadium has found inspiration in Samara’s history with space technology, which also explains the name Cosmos Arena.
During the World Cup the stadium will host four group games, one of these involving the Russian team, a 1/8 final and a quarter final.
Controversies: In June 2015 Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko revealed that the Cosmos Arena would cost €40.05 million more than expected due to the ruble crisis.
(9) LEVBERDON ARENA – ROSTOV
Estimated cost: €241m
Seating capacity: 45,000 (5,000 temporary)
Current Status: Levberdon means “left bank of the Don”, which, naturally, is where the stadium will be located. The stadium is scheduled to be completed in late 2017 thanks to changes in design early in the project which pushed the project back by 7 months. Construction began in 2014 and by mid-2015 the foundations, which needed re-enforcing due to the plot’s position so close to the River Don, are complete and early framework is going up.
The stadium will be the future home of Premier League club FC Rostov.
Controversies: The stadium is being overseen by the same designers as the Kazan Arena, Populous. However, initial designs were scaled back in an effort to cut costs by up to €40m. The re-design has taken away all aesthetic value from the stadium and it will now resemble a standard bowl shape. The re-design process meant that the completion date was pushed back from March 2017 to a projected December 2017, though during a visit from top officials in July 2015, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov said “The contractor has assured us that all concrete work will even be completed ahead of schedule”.
(10) VOLGA ARENA – NIZHNY NOVGOROD
Estimated cost: €360m
Seating capacity: 45,000
Current Status: The construction of the stadium in Nizhny Novgorod started in March 2015, and in October the construction of the stadium’s first floor was finally started. The construction of the stadium was initially delayed, but the stadium is now expected to be done by September 2017, two months before the initial deadline.
Controversies: In October 2015, the local authorities of Nizhny Novgorod asked the Russian state for €100.7 million to fund repairing the city’s transport system, which currently relies heavily on a small subway and busses. Deputy governor Vladimir Ivanov told the news agency Tass that the money would be spend on things that “aren’t directly related to the tournament, but we want to make the city beautiful, good and comfortable, and we’re asking for extra funds for that”
(11) MORDOVIA ARENA – SARANSK
Estimated Cost: €220 million
Seating capacity: 44,000 (30,000)
History: The stadium in Saransk will be brand new when the World Cup kicks off in 2018.
Current Status: Construction was meant to begin in 2010, with the stadium originally scheduled to open in 2012 as a 30,000-seater. However, after inclusion in the list of World Cup host cities, Saransk had to ensure the stadium could accommodate 45,000 spectators and construction stalled. Construction finally began in 2011.
Since this problem has been overcome, the work on the site has been praised by the local authorities. The latest update from the stadium came in September 2015. Half of the concrete is in place but the stadium is expected to be completed in 2017, a year before the World Cup itself. The top half of the stadium is to be built from steel because after the tournament, it is to be removed to reduce the capacity of the stadium to 28,000 as the local club Mordovia Saransk, who will use the stadium after the World Cup, will never be able to fill up 44,000 seats for a regular league fixture.
Despite being delayed for almost two years due to bureaucratic issues Mordovia Arena isn’t expected to be delayed, and it should be ready in 2017 without problems.
Controversies: After two years of work, the building of the stadium stalled. The reason for this was down to FIFA rules. All stadiums must be funded federally but the first years of construction were financed by the local government. Until the resumption of construction was granted, the site was deserted. No further developments could be conducted. After a high profile meeting was held in Saransk in January, 2015 Vladimir Volkov, head of the regional government said: “There should be clear operational coordination, otherwise we will not meet the deadline.”
(12) POBEDA STADIUM – VOLGOGRAD
Estimated cost: €328m
Seating capacity: 45,000 (35,000)
Current Status: The stadium design has been approved. Pobeda Stadium (which means “Victory Stadium”) will be located on the site of Volgograd’s Tsentralny Stadium, which is now being demolished, with construction work to follow. After the World Cup, the seating capacity will be reduced to 35,000.
The construction of the stadium is expected to start in the beginning of 2016, after 2015 was used to construct the fundament.
The running track that surrounded the pitch at the old Rotor Stadium will be removed, and Pobeda Stadium will be a pure football stadium. It will be the home of Rotor Volgograd who currently plays in the Russian third tier after going bankrupt earlier this year.
Controversies: Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, laid ground to one of the bloodiest battles during the Second World War, known as the Battle of Stalingrad. In December 2014, the workers at the stadium found 11 unexploded bombs from the battle. “Given the large volume f unexploded ordnance,” Vasiliy Galushkin, the vice-governor of the Volgograd said, “We have had to carefully check the site to make absolutely sure all the bombs have been removed.”