Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium set for complete rebuild

11 Dec 2012

Russia 2018 chairman Vitaly Mutko has stated that the centrepiece of the country’s staging of the FIFA World Cup, Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, is now likely to be demolished and completely rebuilt.

Mutko, who also serves as Russia’s Sports Minister, first admitted this option could be pursued last month in a change of strategy from Russia 2018’s original plan for the stadium. The Luzhniki Stadium is set to stage the World Cup’s opening match, one semi-final and the final with the 80,000-capacity venue, which opened in 1956 and was refurbished for the 1980 Olympic Games, having been previously lined up for redevelopment. However, Mutko has now said the Luzhniki will likely be demolished after the city’s staging of next year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships.

He told the Interfax news agency: “There are two options: The first one is how it happened with the Brazilian stadium of Maracana when the walls remained, but everything inside was cleared. This is expensive and not perfect because we’d have to go underground, but, actually, there’s nowhere to go there. So the concept, according to which the stadium will be demolished and a new modern arena built in its place, is about to be accepted. We’d like to do it how the British did it with Wembley – that the new stadium would also become a concert area, business centre and a place for entertainment. But the final decision is to be made by the government and the mayor of the capital city of Moscow.”

The demolition option has previously been criticised by project officials who claim the Luzhniki is a historic monument and should retain some of its original features. Mutko said President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government will be deeply involved in the Luzhniki project so that the stadium will remain the “the country’s largest sporting enclave,” adding that the scale of the modernisation needed necessitates a complete rebuild. “Luzhniki will host the opening match and the final, so the stadium has to able to accept 80,000 spectators,” said Mutko. “Today the stadium doesn’t meet FIFA’s capacity standards. According to new requirements not everything is smooth with safety, accommodation and broadcasting as well.”