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The Russian government is seeking to slash up to US$389 million from the construction budget for 2018 FIFA World Cup stadia by dropping plans to develop commercial zones around the facilities, according to the R-Sport news agency.

The Russian government is seeking to slash up to US$389 million from the construction budget for 2018 FIFA World Cup stadia by dropping plans to develop commercial zones around the facilities, according to the R-Sport news agency.

A spending limit of $442 million had been set for each of the seven new stadia for the World Cup, but new plans from the Ministry of Economic Development outline a reduction to $386 million per venue. After announcing the plans, Audit Chamber official Vladimir Katrenko criticised them for being short-sighted, insisting trading zones for food outlets, parks and shopping centres play a crucial role in the long-term legacy of a stadium.

R-Sport said the initiative, which is not yet approved, looks set to apply to the 45,000-seat stadia to be built or redeveloped in Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Saransk, Samara and Rostov-on-Don. Katrenko said: “According to the logic of the Ministry of Economic Development, there will be just boxes in the open field where you can’t properly eat, go shopping or walk with children before or after the match. With an approach like this, we’ll never learn how to earn money on football.”

The Russian government is projected to spend $7.5 billion on the World Cup’s 12 venues and their surrounding infrastructure. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in June signed off on the Infrastructure Programme for the World Cup, with a budget of $20.75 billion set aside for preparations. The infrastructure programme consists of 292 facilities and events deemed essential for holding the World Cup. These include 12 stadia, 113 training sites, 62 hotels, 11 airports, communal and transport infrastructure necessary for the World Cup, and electricity, IT and communications infrastructure.

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