Russia World Cup 2018: Complete Guide to the Stadiums and Venues

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

Russia World Cup 2018: Complete Guide to the Stadiums and Venues

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    Even as the dust settles on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, thoughts and plans will turn for some to the next hosting of the world's biggest tournament: the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    The hosts didn't exactly cover themselves in glory in Brazil, failing to win a game and exiting at the group stage, so they have much to do ahead of the next version of events in their own country in four years' time.

    It's not just on the pitch, though: The entire nation will be seeing regeneration and rebuilds in areas surrounding stadiums, with the tournament set to be played in 12 venues, covering 11 cities.

    Here's everything we have so far on those dozen stadiums, which will soon come under the same scrutiny that Brazil's preparations did little more than six weeks ago.

Arena Baltika, Kaliningrad

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    One of nine completely new stadiums to be built for the finals, the Arena Baltika will house FC Baltika Kaliningrad after the finals.

    It is the furthest west city to host a game at the 2018 finals, is located near the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland, and should seat around 45,000 spectators.

    As per FIFA.com:

    Kaliningrad’s pride is the reconstructed Konigsberg Cathedral of the 14th century. With its two chapels, Orthodox and Protestant, the cathedral is a symbol of peace and reconciliation. The region has been known from classical antiquity as a main source of amber in Europe. The Kaliningrad region is blessed with pristine beaches and pine sand dunes.

Zenit Arena, St. Petersburg

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    The long-awaited new Zenit stadium has been put back several times already, from an original completion date of around 2008. Now the intention for it is to be ready by 2015, with Zenit St. Petersburg switching to play their home matches there.

    It is expected to hold around 70,000 fans in total, a significant step up from the usual 20,000 attendance of the Petrovsky Stadium where they currently play.

    St. Petersburg is, of course, a paramount centre for arts and history. FIFA.com tells us more:

    Saint Petersburg is the ultimate embodiment of artistic talent. Europe's best architects and Russia's foremost creative talents, including Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Joseph Brodsky, left their indelible imprints on this remarkable city...everything in this delightful city is focused on beauty and elegance. The city's legendary drawbridges over the grand Neva River and the famous "White Nights" in June draw tens of thousands of tourists every year.

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

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    The Luzhniki Stadium is already in place and in working order but will receive a facelift and an upgrade ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

    The expectation is that it will eventually seat slightly more than 80,000 spectators, and the current pitch in place is an artificial surface, though that was changed for the 2008 Champions League final and could yet again be replaced for the World Cup.

    It is frequently used as a home pitch for the Russian national team and will be the stadium for the opening match and the final itself.

Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

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    A second Moscow stadium will also be in use, the currently under-construction Otkrytie Arena, which will be the home of Spartak Moscow when complete, some time later this year.

    It will hold around 42,000 spectators and will be one of four stadiums used at the Confederations Cup, to be held the summer before the main event of the World Cup.

    Russia's capital Moscow holds a wealth of artistic, historic and contemporary treasures for those visiting the area to see. More from FIFA.com:

    It is a dynamic 21st century metropolis showcasing some of the world's best shopping, nightlife, restaurants and culture. Home to over 130 nationalities and 11 million residents, Moscow is served by three international airports and the world's second busiest underground system. If one hasn't visited Moscow lately, one hasn't visited Moscow.

Strelka Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

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    FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod will be playing in the new Strelka Stadium once it is built; a 45,000-seater which will sit alongside the Volga river.

    Located in the very heart of European Russia, Nizhny Novgorod serves as a hub of traditionalist Russia meeting a growing commerce culture.

    As per FIFA.com:

    It is one of Russia's most traditional and beautiful cities. Famous annual trade fairs attracted the country's merchants and wealth to the city. The Kremlin, dating back to the 16th century, has a 2-kilometre brick fortress wall and 13 watchtowers. It stands on an elevation offering a breathtaking view of the city and its waterfront.

Kazan Arena, Kazan

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    The Kazan Arena is brand new and already in service—Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan moved there in late 2013. Their new stadium holds 45,000 fans, almost double the amount of the previous Central Stadium they played in.

    Unlike some other Russian cities, Kazan is a more modern, youthful place, due in part to the high student population attending the 30 universities throughout the area.

    FIFA.com tells us more:

    Kazan, one of the oldest Russian cities, has recently celebrated its millennium. The ancient walls of Kazan recall many dramatic events, including the historic siege by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century. Kazan is at the forefront of Russian sport, home to some of the best football, basketball and hockey teams in the country. In 2013, the city will host the Summer Universiade.

Yubileyniy Stadium, Saransk

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    Another of the brand-new stadiums set to open in time for the 2018 World Cup is based in Saransk, almost 650km south-west of Moscow.

    It will hold 45,000 fans for the duration of the World Cup but will then be reduced for when FC Mordovia Saransk take over playing at the venue, down to around 28,000.

    More from FIFA.com:

    Located in central Russia, Saransk is the capital of the Republic of Mordovia...is one of the most pleasant cities in Russia...and is a frequent venue for ethnographic and folklore festivals aimed at preserving national identity, culture and customs.

Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

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    The Central Stadium in Yekaterinburg is already well-established but will receive an upgrade and an expansion in time for the World Cup in 2018.

    It is a multi-sports facility which currently sits 27,000 spectators but will be able to accommodate 44,000 during the World Cup. The most easterly of stadiums to be used at the 2018 World Cup, Yekaterinburg is near the Ural mountains and borders Europe and Asia.

    Per FIFA.com:

    Ekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia in terms of population, and is one of twelve Russian cities with a population of over a million. It is now a modern city with world-class infrastructure that includes an efficient metro system and an excellent airport. The city is also one of Russia's most well-known centres for the arts and one of Russia's leading sports centres. Ekaterinburg athletes have won over 135 medals at the Olympic Games.

Samara Stadium, Samara

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    Another new stadium now and the as-yet unnamed Samara Stadium. Eventually it will host Krylia Sovetov Samara FC, holding close to 45,000 spectators.

    Located more than 1,000 km from Moscow, Samara is further to the south of Russia, far closer to the Kazakhstan border than the Russian capital city.

    It is located alongside the Volga river and has historical significance to the country, per FIFA.com:

    Samara is one of the most prominent Volga region cities and it is famous as Russia's aerospace centre. During World War II, Samara became a "second capital" of Russia as all government departments and diplomatic corps were evacuated there from Moscow. The river is almost 2 kilometres wide here and has been a source of inspiration for poets and artists for centuries.

Levberdon Arena, Rostov-on-Don

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    The proposed new stadium at Rostov-on-Don is part of a city expansion which will see a regeneration south of the river, spreading the city of Rostov from its current location in the north.

    Holding 45,000 for the tournament itself, it will be another stadium which is reduced in capacity post-World Cup. FC Rostov will play their league games at the ground, in front of around 25,000.

    From FIFA.com: 

    River Don provides the city with the serene and picturesque sand beaches and unique cuisine, featuring fish and crayfish dishes. Rostov-on-Don is situated about 1,000 kilometres southeast of Moscow and is a key transport and cultural hub of southern Russia.

Central Stadium, Volgograd

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    Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, will host games at the World Cup from the Central Stadium, which is already in place but will be either upgraded significantly or demolished and rebuilt entirely.

    FC Rotor Volgograd play their football there, with the capacity currently set at marginally more than 32,000, though this will be increased to 45,000 after the regeneration plans. Located alongside the Volga river, further south than Samara, Volgograd sits on the west bank and is populated by more than one million people.

    From FIFA.com:

    Volgograd is a centre for ecotourism in Russia. The city is close to the unique Volga-Akhtubin floodplains, the last pristine stretch of the Volga river valleys. Lakes make up 30 per cent of the park's territory and count over 200 species of birds.

Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

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    Finally, the Fisht Olympic Stadium at Sochi was, of course, the recent site for the winter Olympics.

    Sochi sits on the coast of the Black Sea and has become a hub of sporting activity, owing to being situated beside mountains as well as the sea.

    The 40,000-seater Olympic stadium will be increased to more than 47,000 for the FIFA World Cup and, in general use, will serve as the training base for the Russian national football side.

    FIFA.com tells us more about the nation's big plans for Sochi.

    In preparation for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Sochi's tourism infrastructure is undergoing significant and extensive expansion and renovation. The resulting new accommodation and transport infrastructure will provide a modern and tested state-of-the-art tourism environment for visitors attending 2018 FIFA World Cup™ matches in the city.