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YEKATERINBURG, December 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Reconstruction of the central stadium in Yekaterinburg, Ural region's administrative centre and World Cup 2018 venue, means clearing the prison camp and remand centre from close-by. And it's topping the agenda for Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeny Roizman.
Barbed wire and a machine gun turret in the centre of the city were “unacceptable and highly unsightly” for World Cup days, Roizman said in a submission to Sverdlov region's governor, Yegeny Kuyvashev.
But prison bars are not the only issue on Roizman's mind - or on those of his citizenry.
He's pitted against locals perplexed over why a stadium reconstructed at major expense just years ago needs yet another costly rebuild, due to start next year.
Undaunted, however, the mayor's biting the bullet, steeled to address the electorate even if it's a fight against public opinion. And for now, the prison's removal is today's hot issue in a campaign backed by governor Kuyvashev.
“We have written hundreds of letters about removing the prison camp and remand centre from the intended World Cup zone,” Kuyvashev says. Results are reported, he says.Two alternative locations have been reserved as new homes for those behind bars. Now, it's time for "calm discussion" about the stadium rebuild's finances and "level-headed reconstruction under public control".
Planning for the rebuild has a troubled history already. When the World Cup hosting application was prepared in 2010 an "amazing project" was put together, the governor recalls. But commonsense got the better of concept and "peculiarities of the stadium's construction" meant the plans were kicked into touch.
This time, though, football association FIFA's opposition to the building of new stadiums is working to the Urals city's advantage. Competition history relates South African venues being plundered after rising from the ground while Ukraine's new construction for the Beautiful Game has stood idle after its short-lived fame.
Now, as Yekaterinburg looks to its days in the sun, reconstruction has won it the green card - if the mayor wins over his sceptical townsfolk.