Friday 30 September 2016, 13:14

Ekaterinburg Arena prepares for a new life

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ draws ever nearer, construction on all the tournament's stadiums continues apace. Here is's monthly update on how progress is going.

This month's progress** **The venues that will put on matches at Russia 2018 in less than two years' time are already beginning to attract the attention of football fans worldwide. The majority of the stadiums are completely new, built from scratch, but there are two exceptions to this rule: Moscow's famous Luzhniki Stadium, which celebrated its 60th birthday this year, and the Ekaterinburg Arena. The World Cup will give a new lease of life to both of these football grounds, preserving their important historic details but equipping them with the latest technology and ensuring they are fully modern structures.

The reconstruction project of Ekaterinburg's former Central Stadium will keep some aspects of the previous architectural make-up of the venue, such as the wall of the western and eastern stands and the main entrance with its imposing columns, which the locals in the Ural capital have got used to over the years.

The stadium, or rather its predecessor, dates back to the very start of the 20th century. On the same spot in 1900, Ekaterinburg merchant and philanthropist Kamaletdin Agafurov built a velodrome that kick-started the growth of various sports like tennis, athletics and croquet in the easternmost Russia 2018 Host City.

The first football tournaments took place here in 1913, both a citywide tournament as well as the debut Ural championship. More than a century later, athletics and football are still the sports most commonly performed at Ekaterinburg's main stadium. The arena was converted into the Central Stadium in 1957, which over time became a monument of Soviet neoclassicism. The venue last underwent reconstruction in 2011, when the capacity was set at 27,000.

From now on, Ekaterinburg Arena will be solely used for football. During the World Cup, it will hold 35,000 supporters but afterwards the capacity will be reduced by 10,000 in order to fit the stadium's legacy. Russian Premier League side FK Ural Ekaterinburg will move into the ground following the tournament.

Currently the stadium's construction is going full speed ahead. A hefty chunk of the reconstruction project has already been completed, namely that eight pylons supporting the weight of the roof have been erected. Each pylon measures 42 metres in length and more than 2000 cubic metres of concrete were used to make these vertical pillars.

Work continues on laying the foundations of the temporary stands in the northern and southern sectors, while a control box is being built in the eastern sector and the distribution substation is now ready. In the future, this will supply electricity not only to the renovated stadium but also to nearby residential and communal buildings.

This is just a small part of what is going on at the Ekaterinburg Arena at the moment. Once completed, the stadium's new look will combine its glorious past and an ambitious future.

Elsewhere in Russia In Nizhny Novgorod, the arena's upper level has been erected. Three sectors have three tiers at a height of over 16.4 metres while Sector A will have five tiers, the highest of which reaches over 20.65 metres. Construction on the terraces in the top tiers of all sectors is also being finished off.

The first of 17 elements making up the stadium's roof in Kaliningrad has been mounted, while in Saransk they have also begun erecting the roof, which is expected to be one of the most complicated parts of the construction. Metal constructions weighing 6300 tonnes will be lifted and put in place before May 2017.

The front of the arena in Volgograd currently resembles a crown: the lower tier of the facade is being completed before the workers move to begin the higher level, more than 28 metres off the ground.

In Rostov-on-Don, the cable stays that will support the roof have started being erected. Finally, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which will host the Opening Match and Final of Russia 2018, the grass on the pitch has grown to the necessary length and they have started interweaving man-made fibres 18 cm deep into the turf.

Figure of the month** The retractable roof on the St. Petersburg Stadium measures 71,000** m² in total. It is expected that opening and closing it will take 15 minutes.

Did you know? The players, coaches and directors of FK Rotor Volgograd visited the construction site of their future home ground, the Volgograd Arena, and were extremely impressed with the progress. "I've been to a lot of stadiums," said Rotor captain Aleksei Zhdanov, "but the Volgograd Arena will be one of the best in Europe! The stadium under construction will give a huge boost to Rotor's objective to return to the top flight. That is what we're working on."