The 2018 Russia World Cup kicked off last night, with a five-goal thriller signalling the start of a month of football mania. Any host nation will know that putting on a world cup is no easy feat, and potentially the hardest part is finding a place to play all of the 64 matches. So HEKKTA are investigating the magnificent stadiums that will be housing all the thousands of football fans over the tournament.
Russia is one of the biggest countries in the world, so they certainly possess stadiums in abundance. Spread over 1,800 miles from the exclave of Kaliningrad on the coast of the Baltic Sea to Ekaterinburg, a total of 12 stadiums across Russia have been chosen to host the 64 matches that comprise the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
So we have picked out a few of our favourite grounds, either because of the fantastically rich history they possess, or simply because of their architectural flair.
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
The 81,000 seater stadium kicked off the World Cup last night and is lucky enough to be the host of the final on the 15th July. The Luzhniki Stadium is a ground that has history seeping from it’s walls.
Constructed in just 450 days between 1955 and 1956, the Luzhniki Stadium, initially named the Central Lenin Stadium, is located in the Russian capital of Moscow. It was built to reflect the growing ambitions of the then Soviet government after the Union’s athletes had returned from their first Olympics, in Helsinki in 1952, with 71 medals.
It played a major role in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where GB had a few memorable moments – Wells taking the 100m gold and Ovett and Coe’s famous battles on the track. However the rich history turned sour when in 1982, 66 fans lost their lives in a rush for the exit after a Uefa cup match.
The stadium was renamed the Luzhniki Stadium and has hosted the 1999 Uefa Cup final, in which Parma defeated Marseille, and the 2008 Champions League final, which saw Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties.
Re-opening just in time for the World Cup, it will no doubt be the ground in which some amazing football is played and history is made.
St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg
In another case of renaming, what is usually the The Krestovsky Stadium, or Zenit Arena, will become the St Petersburg Stadium for the World Cup. This stadium is also going to play host to some of the later stages of the tournament, showing a semi-final and also the third/fourth decider match.
Finished only last year, the St Petersburg Stadium is one of the most technologically advanced in the world with a sliding pitch and a retractable roof. Architecturally, it is inspired by Kisho Kurokawa’s ‘The Spaceship’ design on the Toyota Stadium in Japan, with it’s eight rising spires. The 68,000 capacity ground is one of our favourites from a design point of view and we are excited to watch some great footie played here.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
From a distance, the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium kind of looks like a massive multi-storey car park, but not until you look a little closer do you realise how fabulous this stadium is. Huge concrete pillars wrap around the outside containing the cauldron of sound inside and when full, we predict this stadium will be absolutely bouncing!
Nizhny Novgorod lies to the east of Moscow and is inspired by the aspects of nature in the Volga region, in which it is situated. A rather new stadium, with construction beginning in 2015, it will host a last-16 game and also a quarter final.
Fisht Stadium, Sochi – quarter final
The Fisht Stadium in Sochi could well be the best looking stadium with the most scenic background of the tournament. Set with the Caucasus mountains in the backdrop, this stadium is situated on the coast of the Black Sea. Sochi stretches for 140km, making it the longest city in Europe and it’s also the most southern point that the Russia World Cup will go.
If the name Sochi rings a bell or two that would be because the Fisht Stadium played host to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which helps explain it’s unique sloping look, designed to resemble snowy peaks. The stadium’s name also has it’s roots in the mountains as it was named after Mount Fisht, a peak in the Caucasus range of mountains.
This stadium in Sochi will be hosting several group games including Portugal v Spain today and also the quarter final match on Saturday 7th July. Tune in to see our favourite stadium in all it’s glory!
Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
The Volgograd Arena has not been around for long at all. Purpose built for the tournament, it holds 45,000 people and is in the town Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, in south west Russia. Despite it being brand spanking new, they have done a very good job in making an interesting yet classic stadium.
According to the Fifa website, “the special way in which the stadium’s roof has been constructed, with cables reminiscent of the spokes of the wheel on a bicycle, lends the arena an extra element of airiness”. Let’s hope this airiness helps out the England boys on Monday as they will be facing Tunisia in their first cup game at this stadium!
Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
This arena is a very unique looking thing! Almost mimicing a Roman amphitheatre, it sits majestically in the heart of the city. Russia’s fourth largest city, Ekaterinburg is on the geographical borderline of Europe and Asia, at the foot of the Ural mountains and the Ekaterinburg stadium is the most easterly stadium used in the tournament.
It sits in a perfect circle with a halo hovering above it and several soviet neo-Classical pillars lining the entrance, and we must say, we are fans of the grandeur the arena boasts. However, capacity proved to be a problem as expanding out is made very tricky with all of the city built around you! Therefore they decided to add additional seating outside the actual stadium, behind the goals to satisfy the capacity needed for the World Cup games.
Initially known as Central Stadium, it was originally built between 1953 and 1957 and redeveloped between 2007 and 2011. It is the home of Russian Premier League side Ural Ekaterinburg.
Tune into Egypt v Uruguay today at 13:00 to see this classic stadium in action.
Kazan Arena, Kazan
This 45,000 capacity stadium is in the Republic of Tatarstan, in the capital city of Kazan. If you’re thinking that this stadium has familiar look to it, there is a good reason. The Kazan Arena was designed by the same firm of architects that oversaw the new Wembley and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. This is on a smaller scale than the two London-based stadiums, housing just under 45,000 people, but remains impressive nonetheless.
It was completed in July 2013 and now acts as the ground for football side Rubin Kazan. It also boasts versatility having hosted some of the competitions at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, for which the football pitch was replaced by two swimming pools. It is hosting a quarter final on the 6th July.
Samara Arena, Samara
The Samara Arena follows on with the space theme as the futuristic design is a nod to the region’s renowned aerospace sector. It will even be called Cosmos Arena once the World Cup is over. We are fans of the way the roof slowly encases the pitch; it really does look like a UFO! When you look at the fantastic ground inside it’s almost hard to believe that it’s only 45,000 capacity.
It took four years to build and will be christened by the Russia World Cup, and once the tournament has concluded, it will become the new home of local side Krylia Sovetov, replacing their current Metallurg Stadium.
Spartak Stadium, Moscow
This brightly coloured stadium is the first permanent home of 22-time Soviet/Russian champions Spartak Moscow. Prior to its opening in 2014, Spartak played in a number of different venues in Moscow, including the Luzhniki.
Situated on the site of Moscow’s former airfield in the district of Tushino, the stadium hosted its first match on 5 September 2014, in which Spartak drew 1-1 with Red Star Belgrade. The exterior design of the stadium features hundreds of connected diamonds, reminiscent of chainmail. These are coloured the red and white of Spartak but can be changed to reflect the teams playing.