Stadium tour reveals positive developments

A 5,000km route taking in Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Samara, Yekaterinburg and Sochi was the impressive trip made over the course of six days by FIFA and LOC representatives to 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ stadiums. The joint delegation comprised experts in arena design, event preparation and hosting, security, transportation, logistics, hospitality, broadcasting, media operations,  marketing and ticketing programmes, as well as representatives of relevant federal authorities involved in preparation for the tournament.

The visit’s key objective was to assess progress in stadium preparation as well as evaluating the functional compliance of all stadium elements with FIFA requirements for hosting the World Cup between 14 June and 15 July 2018.

In addition to in-person visits to the six aforementioned Host Cities, the group also had separate meetings with the other six arenas in order to receive an update on the current state of stadium readiness.

Summarising the results of the April visit, Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee CEO, Alexey Sorokin, noted: “Our main conclusion is that there is clear progress in all the cities we visited. We confirmed that stadium construction is in full swing, all necessary infrastructure is being created and overall preparations are moving in the right direction.”

"We were able to visit four new cities and see four new stadiums. And that is always good for us because it's a new step in the planning process," said Chris Unger, Head of FIFA World Cup office. "It's good to meet the people, establish relationships, help them answer the questions regarding stadium preparations and get everyone onto the same page."

Saint Petersburg StadiumThe third operating stadium visit began at the main arena for the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, the Saint Petersburg Stadium. The venue will host four matches, including the opening game and final of the tournament next summer as well as seven matches during the World Cup.

The Saint Petersburg Stadium is a technologically advanced arena with a retractable roof and sliding pitch. The 68,000-seater will be completed by the summer of this year, with testing of all systems commencing immediately afterwards.

The main challenge in preparing the stadium for the tournament is accessibility. However, during the operational visit, city leaders assured delegation members that all the required transportation infrastructure, including the footbridge to the stadium and the new metro station, will be ready on schedule.

Nizhny Novgorod StadiumThe new arena for the city of Nizhny Novgorod, being built at the picturesque confluence of two major Russian rivers, the Oka and the Volga, will be a key stadium for Russia 2018. The arena will host four group stage matches, a Round of 16 game and a quarter-final for which local fans have particularly high hopes. Providing Russia finish top of their group and reach the quarter-final stage, they will play their last eight match in Nizhny Novgorod.

At present the site preparation stage for the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium has been successfully completed and work is progressing rapidly. Builders are currently installing the third tier, with roof erection works expected to commence by the end of the year. Overall, FIFA and LOC representatives were positive about the progress made in preparing infrastructure. In particular, experts were able to personally try out the Strigino airport passenger terminal which opened earlier this year.

Volgograd ArenaThe location of the stadium in Volgograd is also a special one, with the arena situated on the shore of the Volga river, at the feet of the majestic Motherland Calls statue. The 45,000-seater is being built on the site of the previous city stadium and will host four group stage matches in 2018.

The result of the first operating visit by FIFA and LOC experts to the city was a positive assessment of the construction progress. Shortly before the expert visit, stadium builders began erecting the fourth tier ahead of schedule. According to the developer, reinforced concrete elements of the stadium are currently 80 per cent ready and will be completed by July 2016.

Samara ArenaThe new 45,000-seater stadium in Samara is preparing to host six World Cup matches, including Russia’s third group game, as well as a Round of 16 match and a quarter-final.

The Samara Arena will have one of the largest areas of all tournament stadiums, thanks to a unique roof design. The massive shell-shaped dome will raise the stadium’s height to 65 metres, giving it an unrivalled and original appearance. Builders have successfully installed the first of four 134-tonne roof consoles and in situ concrete works are ongoing.

Delegation representatives emphasised the accessibility of the Samara stadium which is located on the outskirts of the city, next to a road which connects the airport to the city centre. In addition, given the fact that the new arena is located on a sizeable but largely unused plot of land, the area adjacent to the stadium can be utilised with maximum efficiency.

Ekaterinburg ArenaThe fourth most populous city in Russia was also visited by FIFA and LOC experts for the first time, with a positive assessment of Ekaterinburg’s infrastructure preparations resulting from the trip.

The arena is being rebuilt for the World Cup, with work continuing even during the region’s harsh winters. It is located in the heart of the city centre. According to delegation members, this is both an advantage and a challenge for the organisers, who are required to plan areas around the stadium with great care. Reconstruction of the Ekaterinburg Arena is proceeding on schedule. New stands will be erected inside the stadium’s historic walls, which were carefully preserved during demolition. The 35,000-seater will host four Russia 2018 group stage matches.

Fisht StadiumThe final leg of the third operational tour involved a visit to the Fisht Stadium, which will host Confederations Cup matches, including one of the semi-finals, next summer and six matches at the World Cup.

Builders are currently busy erecting stands behind the goals at the 40,000-seater stadium, with the pitch in picture-perfect condition and ready to be used for top level football matches. However, finishing work will continue through the summer in order to host the first test games for the tournament in the autumn. Preparations for the Confederations Cup are now on the final straight and will be the main subject of the fourth operating visit by FIFA and LOC experts scheduled for September of this year.