Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has rejected reports that the city’s Luzhniki Stadium will be demolished and rebuilt on another site ahead of its role as the centrepiece of Russia’s staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The future of the 80,000-capacity venue has been the cause of much speculation in recent months. The historic venue is set to close for renovation work in August, but the exact scale of the redevelopment is yet to be determined. Russia 2018 chairman Vitaly Mutko in November stated that the Luzhniki 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. Mutko said the venue, which opened in 1956 and was refurbished for the 1980 Olympic Games, is likely be demolished after the city’s staging of next year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Moscow’s historic monuments agency is seeking to ensure the stadium at least retains its original façade and Sobyanin has moved to offer an assurance that a brand new venue will not be developed elsewhere in the city. He said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency: “Luzhniki is a sacred place. So the stadium will remain in its current place. Of course, it requires serious reconstruction, but we won’t be changing site.”
FIFA last month confirmed that the Luzhniki will host the opening match and final of the 2018 World Cup after approving Russia 2018’s hosting concept for the competition. The venue will also host a semi-final alongside St Petersburg.