Russia 2018 World Cup: the complete guide to all the stadiums



All you need to know about the 12 venues for World Cup 2018, including history lessons and the hitches along the way

Kazan Arena

**Capacity: **45,379

**Completed: **July 2013

Cost: $439.7m

Games at Russia 2018 Group C, 16 June; Group B, 20 June; Group H, 24 June; Group F, 27 June; Round of 16, 30 June; Quarter-final, 6 July.

History lesson Kazan considers itself Russia’s “sporting capital” and the Kazan Arena is one of an impressive array of stylish, modern – and expensive – sporting facilities to have sprung up there in recent years. It was designed by Populous, the architects behind Wembley and the Emirates, and was built in time for the 2013 Summer Universiade, where it hosted football and athletics. As a sleek, modern facility it will serve the World Cup well – even if it will, amazingly, be one of the tournament’s oldest stadiums.

Star attraction Anyone who gets lost en route should just look for the high-definition screen – the world’s biggest outdoor one, organisers proudly proclaim – on the side of the stadium. It covers 4,030 square metres and will probably bear both competing nations’ flags on a given matchday. Those arriving from the air may want to appreciate the waterlily-themed roof of this riverside stadium.

Ekaterinburg Arena

Capacity: 35,696

Completed: December 2017 (expected – upgrade of stadium originally built in 1957)

Cost: $215m

**Games hosted at Russia 2018: **Group A, 15 June; Group C, 21 June; Group H, 24 June; Group F, 27 June.

**History lesson **As with the Luzhniki some 1,000 miles away, the old Central Stadium in Ekaterinburg has been renovated for next summer’s competition. It is a year younger than the national stadium, dating back to 1957, and is the long-term home of Soviet league stalwarts Uralmash – these days known as FC Ural. Full international football has yet to take place here although Russia’s under-21s have passed through three times. The ground’s biggest past dalliance with global significance came in 1959, when it held the World Allround Speed Skating Championships.

Star attraction The new stadium soars high above the vestiges of its predecessor but does, at least, retain the old facade – which, like at the Luzhniki, is quite a work of art. But the biggest point of interest may be the temporary stands behind each goal that sit outside the main stadium structure. Such a bizarre sight triggered widespread media interest, and some ridicule, in October.

**Any hitches? **It took some time to settle on a final design, mainly in order to preserve the existing facade, so construction started fairly late. The solution that has been settled upon is certainly eccentric, but Fifa insists the temporary stands were the most cost-effective and practical way to ensure the required 35,000 capacity. Just make sure you bring your binoculars.

Legacy Those temporary stands will be taken down and capacity reduced to a very manageable 23,000 – which seems about right for FC Ural, who will play here after the World Cup and currently sit mid-table in the Russian Premier League, to grow into.

Fisht Stadium

Capacity: 47,659

Completed: December 2013

Cost: $519m

Games hosted at Russia 2018: Group B, 15 June; Group G, 18 June; Group F, 23 June; Group C, 26 June; Round of 16, 30 June; Quarter-final, 7 July.

History lesson This venue is no stranger to big events, having been conceived and delivered for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. When it hosts the World Cup it will become the second stadium – along with Turin’s Stadio Olimpico – to have held both events. Four Confederations Cup games were held here and Russia drew 3-3 with Belgium in a friendly eight months ago.

Star attraction The view beyond the stadium’s open north end, taking in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains, will be something to behold, while the Black Sea is visible to the south. It is a spectacular location and the sweeping roofs of its two main stands are certainly dramatic.

Any hitches? Nothing significant where the World Cup is concerned, although it needed some expensive reconfigurations – notably the removal of its roof – to comply with Fifa regulations. The biggest issue may be its location, around 18 miles from the centre of Sochi, although supporters coped during a successful run at the Confederations Cup.

Legacy It is certainly hard to see too much week-to-week activity taking part here after the World Cup, with Sochi’s only professional football team currently on a self-imposed one-year break having previously failed to make waves in the third tier. Even when they did compete, their crowds were generally tiny. The annual maintenance cost of the stadium could reach $8m so international games and training camps will be among the events relied upon to fill the void. Its capacity will be reduced when the tournament is over, although reports vary as to by how much.

Kaliningrad Stadium

Capacity: 35,212

**Completed: **December 2017 (expected)

**Cost: ** $300m

Games hosted at Russia 2018: Group D, 16 June; Group E, 22 June; Group B, 25 June; Group G, 28 June.

History lesson This brand new facility will provide the Russian exclave, squeezed in between Poland and Lithuania, with an impressive stadium whose concept was originally based on the Allianz Arena. It is situated on Oktyabrsky Island, to the east of the city centre – a picturesque setting that had effectively been a wilderness for many years until this project began.

Star attraction The location is probably Kaliningrad Stadium’s most seductive factor. Design-wise, the stadium is fairly functional even if it is easy enough on the eye.

Any hitches? Oktyabrsky Island has proved a difficult location, largely because wetland grass does not make the soundest foundation for major structures. The original, more ambitious, design for the stadium included a bigger capacity and a retractable roof: financial concerns ended up scuppering that, as did the fact that the company which drew up the plans went bankrupt four years ago. It all meant that ground was not broken on the revised, simplified project until September 2015 but Kaliningrad will be ready for the World Cup.

Legacy The capacity will be cut to around 25,000 after the World Cup and Baltika Kaliningrad, the local side, will play here. It risks being another venue that is rarely filled: the club have not played in the Russian top flight for two decades and typical crowds at their current Baltika Stadium home number in the low thousands. Concerts and other events are also expected to take place here, though. Beyond sport, Oktyabrsky Island and its surrounds will benefit from a new residential development as well as parks and riverside embankments

Spartak Stadium

Capacity : 45,360

Completed: September 2014

Cost: $430m

**Games hosted at Russia 2018: **Group D, 16 June; Group H, 19 June; Group G, 23 June; Group E, 27 June; Round of 16, 3 July.

History lesson The Otkrytiye Arena was conceived as a home for Spartak Moscow – who had never really had a home to call their own despite their status as one of Russia’s leading clubs. A long-term project to change that finally gathered speed in the mid-2000s, with ground broken in July 2007. It proved something of a false dawn, with a number of delays and quibbles about the design putting the project on ice, but by September 2014 Spartak at last had a permanent abode, the Russian national team had another occasional venue – and the World Cup had a stadium that should be popular among supporters.

**Star attraction **The statue of the Thracian gladiator Spartacus, situated in front of the stadium, will be the most popular photo opportunity for visitors here – while the outer shell of the ground, usually strikingly patterned in Spartak’s red and white, can take on the colours of the Russian flag. But the arena itself is enjoyable to spend time in – it was purpose-built for club football and feels that way. The stands are close to the pitch and it is easy to generate an atmosphere, as around 15,000 Chile fans showed to fine effect at the Confederations Cup.

Any hitches? Nothing significant where World Cup preparations are concerned, although the stadium was originally due to be completed before Russia’s hosting was even announced. It proved a fun, lively venue last summer; a minor gripe would be that, although the stadium has its own metro station and is easy enough to access in around half an hour from the city centre, those looking to get out quickly afterwards may find congestion scuppers their best-laid plans.

Legacy Spartak will continue playing here, and the national team will doubtless make further appearances. Several major rock concerts have taken place inside the stadium, a trend that will doubtless continue. A new residential development is also planned for an area that, although not unfavourably situated, is somewhat barren.

Luzhniki Stadium

Capacity: 80,000

**Completed: **June 2017

**Cost: ** $400m

**Games hosted at Russia 2018: **Group A, 14 June; Group F, 17 June; Group B, 20 June; Group C, 26 June; Round of 16, 1 July; Semi-final, 11 July; Final, 15 July.

**History lesson **The grand dame of Russia’s stadiums may not need too much introduction. She has been around since 1956 and has a long, eventful history that includes hosting the 1980 Olympics, the 1999 Uefa Cup final, the 2008 Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea, and the 2013 World Athletics Championships. In Communist times it was known at the Central Lenin Stadium and was the most important ground in the USSR. It has hosted more than 3,000 games at club and international level – the latest being this month’s friendly between Russia and Argentina, which was its official reopening after an extensive renovation before the World Cup.

**Star attraction **This is one of those stadiums whose history you can smell as soon as you get within a few hundred yards. Its classic Soviet facade has been preserved and anyone attending a game will almost certainly walk past the huge statue of Lenin that guards the front entrance. From the concourses there are fine views over the city, and especially the spectacular Moscow State University building. The modernisation has been carried out tastefully: it is a stadium fit for a World Cup final.

Any hitches? Nothing major, although a small fire in October 2015 caused brief alarm. The renovated ground was delivered on time and the Russia v Argentina match was, a defeat for the hosts aside, a successful dry run for next summer. There were long queues to access the transport system after that game, though: a useful tip could be to dart south-east and head out to Vorobyovy Gory station rather than joining the hordes looking to access the Luzhniki or Sportivnaya stations to the north.

Legacy Luzhniki’s place in the future of Russian sport is perfectly secure. It will be the national team’s home, even though they will doubtless make use of the other major facilities that have sprung up for this tournament, and will continue to host big domestic games too. Further European finals are surely a possibility.

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

**Capacity: **44,899

**Completed: **December 2017 (expected)

Cost : $290m

Games hosted at Russia 2018: Group F, 18 June; Group D, 21 June; Group G, 24 June; Group E, 27 June; Round of 16, 1 July; Quarter-final, 6 July.

**History lesson **Ground was broken on this new stadium in March 2015. It is situated in Strelka, a western district of Nizhny Novgorod, and is one of several World Cup stadiums to be placed attractively by a river – or two, in this case, at the confluence of the Volga and the Oka. Work on the project is expected to be over by Christmas.

Star attraction The design promises to be one of the World Cup’s most striking, with slim pillars supporting from the outside and surrounding a semi-transparent facade. But the view over the 500-year-old Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is the real selling point and the sense of place should be strong.

Any hitches? Plumes of black smoke were seen rising from the site in October after a fire broke out. It looked more serious than it was, thankfully, and appears to have had little impact on either the delivery or those working on the project. This aside, the process has been relatively smooth.

Legacy Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod (previously known as Volga) will play their games here, and the second-tier club will presumably hope matches there attract more interest than their most recent two home games – played in nearby Dzerzhinsk ­– which recorded an aggregate attendance of 900. Other sports may well be played inside the arena too.

Rostov Arena

Capacity: 45,145

Completed: December 2017 (expected)

Cost: $330m

Games hosted at Russia 2018 : Group E, 17 June; Group A, 20 June; Group F, 23 June; Group D, 26 June; Round of 16, 2 July.

History lesson Situated on the banks of the River Don, this is another brand new facility and one that – like several of its peers – has suffered a few false starts. Eventually construction began towards the end of 2014 and the finishing touches should be complete by Christmas, although this is seven months after the originally mooted completion date.

Star attraction According to the blurb, Rostov Arena will be notable for its roof – which apparently imitates the meanderings of the river. There are attractive views over that and the south-west Russian city.

Any hitches? In common with some of the other stadiums, the plans for Rostov Arena were downsized after original projections were judged to have overreached. The initial plan was a joy to behold – a modern, teardrop-shaped venue that promised to be unique. Eventually spiralling costs put paid to that; the pared-down version is fine but will have little to really distinguish it from the rest. Despite these conscientious efforts to save money, reports suggest the end product will have cost only 15% less than had been planned for its more lavish predecessor.

Legacy FC Rostov, who were known as the “Russian Leicester” during their surprise title push two seasons ago, will move in. The capacity will be reduced by around 5,000. The stadium will be the focal point for a wider redevelopment of the Don’s left bank – with shops, restaurants and business premises planned.

Saint Petersburg Stadium

Capacity : 64,287

**Completed: **April 2017

Cost: $1.5bn (rumoured)

Games hosted at Russia 2018: Group B, 15 June; Group A, 19 June; Group E, 22 June; Group D, 26 June; Round of 16, 3 July; Semi-final, 10 July; Third place play-off, 14 July.

History lesson Krestovsky Stadium was supposed to be one of the world’s most exciting, cutting-edge sports arenas. That may still be the case but the path here has been fraught with delays, soaring costs and numerous controversies – denting the pride many in Vladimir Putin’s home city feel about its new attraction. It took a decade to build and was finished eight years after the originally mooted completion deadline. That would have predated Russia’s securing of the World Cup and made for a much smaller, lower-key venue; the project rapidly escalated in scope after 2010 and it became, according to some estimates, the world’s most expensive football stadium.

Star attraction The stadium is, for those not counting the cost at least, worth the wait. Its vertiginous stands are spectacular, the views out on to the Gulf of Finland from behind the seats are wonderful and the ‘Spaceship’ design is unmistakable. For anyone wanting to make sure of a few thrills before the football kicks off, the vast park on the approach to the ground contains a number of decidedly white-knuckle rollercoasters.

Any hitches? Far more than could be listed in this space. But the practical niggles encountered in the past year or so have commanded particular attention – they include a serially leaky roof, which some officials have attributed to damage caused by cormorants, and a pitch initially found to have vibrated seven times more than the permissible limit. Concerns have also been raised about the levels of formaldehyde and ammonia in the materials used to finish some of the internal structure. On a matchgoing level, thousands of supporters were caught out by the mile-long walk from the nearest metro station at the Confederations Cup, meaning the stadium started filling up only towards half-time. These troubles perhaps pale into insignificance when last year’s in-depth investigation by the Norwegian magazine Josimar, which alleged at least 110 North Koreans had been working at Krestovsky in atrocious conditions, comes into play.

Legacy Zenit St Petersburg will continue to play here – after some early false starts that saw them return to their old Petrovsky Stadium – and hope that the facility helps them push on in their quest to become a more consistent European force. Whether they can ever fill it remains moot, although nearly 50,000 came through the turnstiles for a recent match against nearby Tosno.

Samara Arena

Capacity: 44,807

Completed : Early 2018 (expected)

Cost: $320m

Games hosted at Russia 2018: Group E, 17 June; Group A, 19 June; Group C, 21 June; Group A, 25 June; Group H, 28 June; Round of 16, 2 July; Quarter-final, 7 July.

**History lesson **Ground for the Cosmos Arena was broken in 2014. The project has been controversial locally and its originally mooted location on an island outside the city was rejected after heavy criticism. It has not been an easy ride towards construction although the end product should, amid an attractive green setting, be pleasing to the eye.

Star attraction This should be one of the tournament’s more striking venues. Samara is proud of its history as one of the primary hubs of the Soviet space programme and the 65m-high glass dome, which will be lit up at night, promises to be spectacular. The city itself should be an enjoyable visit – raw, energetic and beautifully situated at the confluence of the Samara and Volga rivers.

Any hitches? Samara is arguably the bad boy of Russia’s lagging stadium projects. It has been riddled with delays, while costs have soared and by mid-2015 it was already more than €40m over its original budget. That contributed to a change of constructor in early 2016. A number of tweaks to the original plan – including a downscaling of the dome, intended to be 80m high – had to be made to cut costs and prevent it falling further behind schedule, while in August a fire added to the many difficulties. It will be ready in time for the tournament, but the surrounding infrastructure will not have had much of a road test – presumably taxis and dedicated buses will be the most reliable means of getting there.

Legacy Local side Krylia Sovetov (whose name, wonderfully, means “Wings of the Soviets”) are expected to move there from their creaking Metallurg Stadium – which is itself worth a look if you can brave an iffy neighbourhood. They have been a yo-yo club recently but look on course for a return to the top flight next season. It is an old club with rich tradition but, even so, it would take some turnaround for them to fill the ground. A residential development is expected to surround the new structure in good time.

Mordovia Arena

Capacity: 44,442

Completed: Early 2018 (expected)

Cost: $300m

Games hosted at Russia 2018 : Group C, 16 June; Group H, 19 June; Group B, 25 June; Group G, 28 June.

**History lesson **Saransk is the smallest of the World Cup host cities and, to Russians, was a surprising choice of venue – particularly when a football-loving city such as Krasnodar, to the south-west, will have an outstanding facility sitting idle next year. But Mordovia Arena, whose construction began in 2010, should serve its purpose well enough and is situated near enough to both railway station and newly completed airport for a swift getaway if supporters are seeking brighter lights.

Star attraction There is nothing particularly flashy here although the stadium’s brightly coloured exterior, intended to reflect the rich palette of the Mordovia region’s arts and crafts, will hopefully be photogenic.

Any hitches? Construction has been considerably delayed – not least due to a lengthy suspension between 2013 and 2015 – so Mordovia Arena is one of next year’s stragglers, although it should be ready in time to host its first test event in April.

Legacy Capacity will be scaled back to around 28,000 and local side Mordovia Saransk will move in. They lead the Ural-Povolzhye section of Russia’s regionalised third tier and have a habit of moving between the top three tiers – although their most recent attendance of 1,128 for a match with Chelyabinsk suggests it may be a while before the inhabitants of a town that has never been football mad flock to the new facility. The commercial facilities indoors will probably be subject to a heavy sell, while other sports will be played on the site.

Volgograd Arena

Capacity : 45,568

Completed : Early 2018 (expected)

Cost: $280m

**Games hosted at Russia 2018: **Group G, 18 June; Group D, 22 June; Group A, 25 June; Group H, 28 June.

**History lesson **The stadium is new, but the site can tell a tale or two. Here used to stand the Central Stadium, home to Rotor Volgograd and venue for the goalless first leg of their famous Uefa Cup win over Manchester United in 1995. That was a classic Soviet bowl; its replacement, where work began in 2015 after the old ground’s demolition, looks very different and its exterior design is intended to resemble basketwork.

**Star attraction **The finished article should have a light, airy feel that sits well with visitors; it will be worth a pilgrimage, too, for anyone wanting to remember one of the more enduring European shock results of the 1990s.

Any hitches? A few minor issues. In June a small fire broke out on the site after a welding accident, and it had to be combed thoroughly for unexploded ordnance after bombs from the Battle of Stalingrad were found in 2014. The stadium appears to be running slightly behind its originally scheduled completion, but nothing to worry about where next summer is concerned.

Legacy Rotor expect to play here although, once again, their ability to get anywhere near filling the ground is in grave doubt. It would help if they clawed their way up from rock bottom of Russia’s second division; at present it would probably take another visit from United to draw a full house. The capacity will drop by around 10,000, though.